202. Telegram From the Embassy in Spain to the Department of State 1

During course yesterday’s visit to bases, Embtel 1234,2 FonMin took particular pains to clarify for me his views desirability Spain’s joining NATO.

He first emphasized that in General FRANCO’s and his opinion Spain did not have a great deal to gain by joining NATO and that they were not anxious. He pointed out they had never raised subject formally with me nor had they sought to exercise pressure on other countries such as Norway where Spanish curtailment of fish imports and use of Norwegian freighters could bring that country around very quickly.

Spain had made it clear in the past and it continues to be Spanish policy that if unanimously asked to join, Spain would accept. He pointed out that with French divisions in North Africa, slow German progress in furnishing troops, reduction of English forces, three Spanish divisions, for instance, could represent a substantial contribution under the circumstances. Moreover, mingling of Spanish soldiers with units other nationalities would tend to bring Spain more into Europe which is what he, Castiella, desires.

FonMin stressed Spain’s loyalty to its agreements with us and that we could count on their firm adherence to anti-Communist position with no possibility of drift to neutrality.

Castiella mentioned his personal disappointment that at Bonn NATO meeting U.S. had not raised question of Spanish membership. In light of many congressional resolutions and public statements Spain had hoped we would at least bring subject up. He mentioned previous impressions his Government had received that U.S. Congress was more favorably disposed toward Spain than was Executive branch.3 My impression was that he and General FRANCO are apparently upset not so much because they hope to be in NATO but because their Spanish pride is hurt that U.S. did not consider them worth mentioning. We pointed out reasons why it would have been inadvisable for U.S. to raise Spanish membership at this meeting. He said if U.S. [Page 582] really wanted Spain in, we could have led the way, as in case of Turkey, and others would have followed. Conversation was entirely friendly.

Lodge
  1. Source: Department of State, Madrid Embassy Files: Lot 64 F 64, 320, NATO 1956–1958. Confidential. Drafted by Byington on May 14. Repeated to Paris for Perkins.
  2. Telegram 1234 described a tour of American bases in Spain that Ambassador Lodge conducted on May 14 for the new Spanish Foreign Minister, Fernando Castiella, to familiarize him with the joint base program. (Ibid., Central Files, 711.56352/5–1457)
  3. The House, on March 20, and the Senate, on April 11, unanimously passed resolutions for the Department of State to use its good offices to achieve Spanish membership in NATO.