376. Telegram From the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State0

23. Following message was cleared by Mr. Tyler prior to his departure from Rome:

“Spanish Foreign Minister Castiella called on me yesterday. We had general, cordial conversation lasting 3-quarters hour.

About base agreements Castiella said he felt sure we could reach understanding. It was agreed talks should continue mainly between Garrigues and Tyler. I added I would also give matter my attention from time to time and hoped he would continue to do so with Ambassador Woodward. I said US has no new questions to raise. Castiella commented talks had been slow in getting started. I said perhaps President’s trip to Europe had contributed to this. I hoped things would now progress more rapidly. We looked forward to getting specific views and requests from Spanish side. Castiella said Garrigues would shortly have specific instructions to put forward Spanish position.

He said from Spanish standpoint most important matter was to clarify some ‘basic principles’ involved. These more important than any particular economic or military details. Spain did not want to bargain or ask for anything US could not give. Spain wanted above all to be given ‘equal treatment’ with other nations participating in Western defense even though Spain is not a member of Atlantic alliance.

He said risks had increased, Soviet propaganda not letting Spanish people forget this, situation now different than in 1953 and constantly evolving. Spain was not afraid of such threats, but in return for cooperation dignity of Spanish people, not just that of any government or regime, required recognition of risks being taken. Castiella said he saw Don Juan in Rome yesterday and he shared this view.

On risks I reminded him US has one million men overseas, takes casualties every week from Communist action, I observed US has almost no bilateral problem with USSR. US is involved in such efforts and risks because it is helping defend free world countries wherever threatened with Communist attack. Castiella said Spain had shown its good will by going beyond texts of agreements in acceding promptly to US [Page 1022] requests, for instance at time of Lebanon crisis and for missile tracking station in Canary Islands. I said this true, both countries had acted in same spirit, each doing more than required to do under terms of agreements. I also said when I was last in Madrid I had given General Franco information about the strategic situation which we had shared with the chiefs of state of only about six countries. We thought General Franco was entitled to this because of the bases in Spain. This led to general expressions of basic good will by Castiella.

Mr. Tyler asked Castiella to tell Garrigues to feel free at any time to take up his problems with him informally. Castiella said Garrigues would shortly give Mr. Tyler an outline of the basic principles Spain is concerned about.

Rest of conversation dealt briefly with following:

Castiella said he had seen Pope Paul who very cordial. Castiella claimed Pope regretted prominence given last winter to his telegram to Franco asking clemency for Spanish student. Castiella said Pope realized his telegram based on misinformation.
Castiella said economic and social progress of Spain is rapid and should make major gains in next five years. One obstacle might be attempts from abroad at interference in Spain’s internal affairs. Castiella alleged US trade unions were among those involved in this.

Castiella said King of Morocco would shortly visit Madrid for meeting with Franco. In spite of difficulties, Spain’s relations with Morocco were generally good as they were with rest of Africa. De Gaulle had suggested that France, Spain and Morocco were Atlantic countries with many common interests and should try to work closely together. Castiella had been glad to welcome Assistant Secretary Williams recently in Madrid.

It was agreed that if press learned of our talks we would simply say that we had had a general tour d’horizon. If asked we would say that there of course had been some general discussion of the base agreements question but that our discussions on this subject were going on through normal diplomatic channels. Rusk.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, Def 15 Sp-US. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Madrid, Paris, and Rabat. On June 23 the Spanish Ambassador to Italy had urged that during the President’s trip to Europe, June 23–July 2, some contact be made between high-level Spanish officials and appropriate U.S. officials at a mutually convenient place. (Telegram 2812 from Rome; ibid., Pol Sp-US) In subsequent exchanges of telegrams a meeting in Rome on July 2 was arranged.