No. 363


Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Western European Affairs (Byington)


Subject: U.S. Policy Towards Spain

Participants: Mr. Burrows, Counselor, British Embassy
Mr. Byington, WE

I referred to Mr. Burrows’ previous call at the Department with regard to Spain and to his suggestion that the Foreign Office would appreciate any information we might provide with regard to new developments in U.S. policy towards Spain upon the resumption of ambassadorial relations.1 I said that the Government, after considerable study, had reached the conclusion that the military and strategic potentialities of Spain could not be ignored in organizing the defense of Western Europe. It was desirable that Spain’s military potentialities and strategic position should be utilized within and integrated into NATO plans for the defense of Western Europe. We were fully aware of Spain’s policy of isolation and of the difficulties inherent in attaining such an objective, but the critical world situation as it had developed over the past year has brought the military necessity of utilizing Spain very much to the fore.

As a preliminary step towards the above objective we had instructed our Ambassador to Madrid to explore with the Spanish Government its willingness to cooperate in the common defense against communist aggression. Our Ambassador was to explain that we desired closer relations with Spain and that we were ready to assist in any way that might be possible in helping to develop closer relations between Spain and the other nations of the NATO.

Mr. Burrows inquired what kind of commitment our Ambassador could make with regard to acceptability of Spain into the NATO. I pointed out that obviously Mr. Griffis could make no commitment whatsoever in this regard and that his approach to the Spanish Government was entirely informal and exploratory in order to clarify just what was the attitude of the Spanish Government towards participation in the common defense. I emphasized that it was the U.S. policy to keep Great Britain and France fully informed of our moves with regard to Spain and in reply to his question of when [Page 798] Ambassador Griffis would approach the Spanish Government, I said that his instructions had not yet reached him.

I said that the Department would appreciate receiving the views of the Foreign Office in this matter and that we hoped very much they would be disposed to work with us towards the development of closer relations between Spain and the NATO. Mr. Burrows said that he foresaw a good deal of difficulty in front of the British Government in considering this problem. He expressed great appreciation for our having given him our views at this early stage and promised to let us know the reaction of the Foreign Office.2

  1. No record of this conversation has been found in Department of State files.
  2. On February 13, Byington invited Jean Daridan and Christian de Margerie, Counselors of the French Embassy, to the Department where he informed them of the newly-emerging U.S. policy toward Spain in language nearly identical to that used in the interview with British Counselor Burrows. In reply, “Mr. Daridan said that he did not feel there would be a very warm welcome for this policy from the French Government” and de Margerie “emphasized the hostility of the French Socialist Party towards the Franco Government and pointed out that the Minister of Defense, Mr. Jules Moch, was a member of that party.” (Memorandum of conversation by Byington, 611.52/2–1351)