371. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Call on the Secretary by Spanish Ambassador


  • The Secretary
  • H. Freeman Matthews, Jr.—EUR:WE
  • Don Antonio Garrigues,
  • Ambassador of Spain

The Spanish Ambassador had a one hour meeting at his request with the Secretary on April 25. Garrigues said he was returning to Spain [Page 1006] on May 4 and wished to be able to convey to the GOS a realistic picture of what could and could not be asked by Spain for extension of U.S. base rights. He asked whether the Secretary had any suggestions he could transmit to the Chief of State. In response to the Secretary’s query how he sensed the attitude in Madrid, Ambassador Garrigues said his impression was the situation had deteriorated a little, although it was basically clear the GOS was happy with the Agreements as was the U.S. While he was not speaking under instructions and he did not know whether the GOS had made up its mind on desiderata, three points were clear:

Spain’s status in the Atlantic Community was unsatisfactory because while Spain shared the risks as much as or more than NATO countries, it had no voice in decisions of life or death involving 30 million Spaniards.
Spain’s political evolution was underway and he and others were vigorously defending and promoting this trend. Examples of evolution were changes in treatment of the press, of Protestants, and in control over their economy. Furthermore, at its last meeting the Council of Ministers had approved changing the jurisdiction over unspecified cases from military to civil courts. However, to maintain this evolution in the face of the bitter opposition of illiberal forces it was necessary to have signs of the success of this policy by 1) some gesture of friendship from the U.S. (in this connection Ambassador Garrigues mentioned that the President was not planning to visit Spain and that the impression had been created that this Administration was less friendly to Spain than the last) and 2) increased acceptance of Spain in the European “clubs” (EEC and NATO). (Membership in these clubs would be a guarantee of evolution.)
Spain’s economic development and social readjustments would require outside assistance. He realized U.S. balance of payments problem was severe, but he was hopeful that some means of U.S. assistance not affecting the BOP could be found (contracts, tied loans).

Ambassador Garrigues said the Papal Encyclical’s clear endorsement of internal evolution would have profound effect in Spain, but that a gesture of friendship from the U.S. was of utmost importance for evolution. In addition, he personally needed something in hand to bring back to Spain, such as a statement that the President intended to visit Spain in the future.

The Secretary said he wished to make the following informal comments. In the first place he hoped GOS would approach the forthcoming base negotiations in a positive spirit. These Agreements had been of considerable benefit over the past 10 years to both countries. Spain’s economy and strength had been greatly improved during this period, and the U.S.-Spanish relationship had had much to do with this improvement [Page 1007] The U.S. had supported Spain in a number of international organizations (UN, OECD, IMF, etc.) with gratifying results for both countries. Spain’s relations with other Western European countries had also improved, and knowledge of the fact of the U.S.-Spanish relationship had played a role here too. With regard to other European organizations the Secretary was not pessimistic. Finally, while it was true that 30 million Spaniards risked their lives, it was also true that 180 million American lives were in similar danger. The Secretary was sure enemies of Spain knew that when Spain was endangered the U.S. was too, and that this was understood for instance in Moscow. The Secretary concluded therefore that the Agreements had been of great advantage to Spain.

As to a Presidential visit, the Secretary did not want to go over the points already made to the Ambassador by Mr. McGeorge Bundy, but the fact was that the President had visited only two countries in Europe and was now adding only two more (Ireland was a special ancestral case). A visit now was simply not possible. As for a sign of our friendship, it was known throughout Western Europe and Latin America that the U.S. was the friend of Spain and improved Spanish relations with many of those countries was the result. However, the Secretary would remember Ambassador Garrigues’ points regarding Spain’s “status”, would talk to the President so he would be aware also, and would consider what could be done on that score.

The Secretary continued that on the economic side Spain was now better off than we were in some respects. He paid tribute to Spain’s remarkable recovery. He felt that with normally available credits and Spain’s economic reputation, economic development should not be a problem.

With regard to Spain’s internal conditions the Secretary said we were pleased to see the direction developments were taking, that we valued the progress made and hoped to see it continue.

The Secretary concluded that over the past ten years both the U.S. and Spain have reasons to approach the forthcoming talks with a positive spirit of friendliness and frankness.

The Secretary felt Ambassador Garrigues should know that the USSR was currently facing many problems—internal political, economic, and with the Bloc and the Chinese. We would be going through a rather severe period in the next few months while the USSR was reappraising its policy. It was of the utmost importance that the solidarity of the West be maintained in this period, lest the Soviets make some dangerous decisions.

Ambassador Garrigues again returned to Spain’s “status” in the Atlantic Community and referred to a Sulzberger article regarding “a Maltese [Page 1008] Formula for Spain” (association with NATO). Some way must be found to include Spain in the councils of the West and evidence of U.S. friendship must also be shown. The Secretary asked the Ambassador if a Gallup Poll were held in Spain what country Spanish people would pick as their best friend, aside from the special case of Portugal. Ambassador Garrigues said there was no doubt the U.S. would be the choice up to now, followed by Germany and thirdly by France. The Secretary said similarly he was sure some 45 of any 50 Foreign Ministers would say the U.S. was Spain’s best friend. Thus U.S. friendship was an evident fact and not something under the bed or in the closet. We have shown our friendship to all the world and do not need to demonstrate it afresh.

Ambassador Garrigues said such amity was not evident enough lately, particularly in view of the questions of the Agreements and of evolution in Spain. Even a six-hour visit by the President would have a greatly favorable effect on our relations, and a 45-minute talk with Franco would be enough to reach complete agreement in principle on U.S. base rights, except for “technical details”.

The Secretary said he had benefited from this discussion and would talk to the President about it before his departure for CENTO. The Secretary believed we should discuss the Agreements in the same spirit of frankness and cooperation that has marked their operation over the past ten years, and there would then be no difficulty. There had been a remarkable development of Spain economically and otherwise and in its foreign relations over the past ten years. The Secretary sensed the attitude of the American people toward Spain was also developing well and that the Ambassador must notice this in his travels around the U.S.

The Ambassador concluded by asking whether he perhaps could not carry back a letter from the President to General Franco regretting he could not visit Spain now but would do so later. The Secretary said the possibility of some kind of letter would be considered.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, Pol Sp-US. Confidential. Drafted by Matthews and approved in S on May 9.