366. Telegram From the Embassy in Spain to the Department of State0

786. For S/S. Following is based on as yet uncleared memo of Secretary’s conversation with Franco December 16.1

Discussion, which lasted more than hour and half and ranged over wide field, dealt mainly with: (1) report by Secretary on NATO Council meeting;2 (2) relative strength of east and west in which Secretary was able reassure Franco about west’s superior nuclear power; (3) cold war problems including some suggestions by Franco about western policy towards Soviet occupied countries; (4) situation within USSR and Sino-Soviet Bloc; (5) Latin America, particularly Dominican Republic, Cuba; (6) importance of western unity, and danger of it becoming divided over problems in Asia and Africa; (7) problems of Goa, Congo and Katanga; (8) future of not yet independent countries; (9) Arab world, and especially Morocco; (10) Morocco’s desire for arms and related question of security of Canary Islands and Spanish African possessions (whose strategic importance to west Franco emphasized).

One interesting point unexpectedly raised by Franco was proposal that if and when US is forced out of its bases in Morocco it might usefully establish base in Spanish Sahara where Spain already has air fields, especially near El Aiun. Franco suggested this could serve same strategic purpose as bases in Morocco while avoiding political uncertainties and [Page 995] risks arising from population concentrations near Moroccan bases since Spanish Sahara scantily populated and nomads are pro-Spain and west. Secretary did not comment on this idea.

Secretary and Franco agreed that it would be better not to supply arms to Morocco beyond reasonable needs for internal security, but Secretary said heart of problem was not whether or not Morocco would get arms but how to prevent Morocco from turning to Soviet bloc for arms and thus becoming prey to increasing Soviet penetration and influence. Franco replied that if west built dams, reservoirs and otherwise helped Morocco economically Moroccan people would be more contented and would not support demands for arms. Franco emphasized danger to west if Soviet penetration led to Soviet takeover of US bases in Morocco. Secretary agreed and said US and Spain should continue consult together on how to handle Moroccan problem as it evolves.

Re Katanga, Secretary informed Franco very energetic steps now being taken, in which President personally helping, to bring Adoula and Tshombe together to meet and said when they so agreed there would be immediate cease-fire in Katanga. Secretary stressed importance for west and Congo that Katanga not secede. Franco said that experience in Congo showed that best policy in regard certain dependent countries would be to delay granting them independence for determined period of years to allow them to prepare for it, during which time such countries might be given some form of guarantee or trusteeship. Franco did not specify any specific dependent country in this regard, but it seemed clear that he had Angola in mind.

Franco said Spain stands 100 percent with Portugal in its present difficulties. In this connection Secretary and Franco saw eye to eye on need to try to prevent India from taking military action against Goa, but when Secretary suggested that best way to secure peaceful future for Goa might be for Portugal to allow plebiscite there, Franco said trouble with this was India was infiltrating agents into Goa and trying to stir up tension there “to dress up doll,” and asked why press Portugal to hold plebiscite in Goa when Soviets were not pressed to hold plebiscites in countries they occupy.

Eastern European countries were evidently much on Franco’s mind. He suggested increased assurances to them by US that it still insists upon their independence and is not abandoning them. He said they represent one of major weapons in cold war which US has not used to deserved extent; and in hot war they would constitute important source of weakness and danger for Soviets which west should be prepared to exploit. He also asserted there were signs of increasingly informed public opinion in USSR which Khrushchev was having some difficulty in controlling and that US should try take fullest advantage of this by assuring such public opinion that Soviet Government, not US, is responsible [Page 996] for present danger of world war and that US has no enmity towards Soviet people.

Secretary welcomed these suggestions and reassured Franco about present balance of power between US and Soviet bloc (Franco had suggested that he felt time to be working against US and west since Soviet power seemed have increased greatly in recent years in relation to that of west). Secretary assured him that there was no balance or standoff between east and west in nuclear weapons in which he said US still far in lead. Franco expressed gratitude for this information and said maintenance by US of military superiority was only way to prevent war. Franco made no special comment on Secretary’s presentation regarding determination of NATO to stand firm on Berlin and to more than hold its own against Soviet efforts to dominate world except to express agreement and satisfaction. But he said struggle between east and west is primarily political; Soviets have gained much by offering solution to countries which for years had found their positions hopeless and Soviet solution was convincing to many countries and people; therefore only hope in west is to offer another convincing solution preferable to Communism. While searching for this west must not let itself be divided by differences within itself over relatively minor issues.

Re Latin America, discussion of Dominican Republic evoked no significant comment from Franco, but he said US should have acted much more vigorously in Cuba as soon as Castro began expropriating US property and violating human rights. Franco said almost all world would have approved such US initiative. Secretary spoke of increasing Latin American solidarity against Castro and of his hope for important action from January 10 OAS meeting. Franco expressed doubts of efficiency of OAS due to internal weaknesses of some of its members; but he seemed more hopeful Alliance for Progress would prove fruitful. He said, however, US often makes mistakes of considering other peoples comparable to its own in discipline, intelligence and willingness to help themselves, and US should realize all peoples not equal in ability to govern themselves.

There was no discussion of any of Spain’s internal problems, although Secretary complimented Franco on success of stabilization plan. Also there was no discussion of future of joint bases in Spain (except that Foreign Minister said in his luncheon toast there should be no difficulty in two countries agreeing on this subject). Atmosphere of Conference was cordial with Franco in increasingly friendly frame of mind as talks progressed.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.12–RU/12–1761. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.
  2. In a memorandum to Rusk, dated December 1, Tyler seconded a recommendation from the Embassy in Spain that the Secretary of State visit Madrid on his way back to Washington from the NATO Ministerial Meeting December 13–15. Although Tyler proposed a 24-hour stay, Rusk agreed only to a brief stopover. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 2019) A memorandum of the conversation was transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 348, December 18. (Ibid., Central Files, 110.11–RU/12–1861)
  3. See Documents 117119.
  4. Telegram 787, December 17, reported that the Secretary’s brief visit had been “highly successful,” and was most helpful to “over-all US interests in Spain.” (Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–RU/12–1761)