181. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Gibraltar


  • UK Side
    • Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart
    • Sir Harold Caccia, Permanent Under Secretary of State, Foreign Office
    • Michael Stewart, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., British Embassy
    • R. S. Crawford, Assistant Under Secretary, Foreign Office
    • Michael Hadow, Counselor, Foreign Office
    • J. N. Henderson, Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary
    • John Harris, Special Assistant to the Foreign Secretary
    • Christopher Everett, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • US Side
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Bruce
    • William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary, EUR
    • Phillips Talbot, Assistant Secretary, NEA
    • J. Harold Shullaw, Director, BNA
    • Harrison Symmes, Deputy Director, NE

The Foreign Secretary raised the subject of Gibraltar and the difficulties being experienced with Spain.2 He said that the Spanish Government has charged that the British action in giving a measure of self government to the people of Gibraltar violates the Treaty of Utrecht. Mr. Stewart said that his government does not regard limited self government as constituting a transfer of sovereignty which is forbidden by the terms of that Treaty. The British Government is prepared to negotiate with the Spanish Government on such problems as smuggling, but it is not prepared to negotiate on the question of sovereignty. Furthermore, it is not prepared to negotiate while the Spanish continue their harassment at the border. He asked if there was any way in which the US could help.

The Secretary said that in the case of Puerto Rico we have always been able to tell critics to ask the Puerto Ricans what their wishes were with respect to the relationship with the U.S. He asked the Foreign Secretary [Page 371] if the UK could take a similar line with respect to Gibraltar. Mr. Stewart replied that there is no doubt but that the people of the Colony would support continued British rule. They have no desire to see a change in sovereignty.

The Secretary said that we would see what we can do to counsel moderation. The Spanish Foreign Minister will be in Washington this week and the Secretary said he would try to find out what he could about Spanish intentions.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 19 GIB. Secret. Drafted by Shullaw and approved in S on April 2. The memorandum is marked Part 3 of 4. The meeting was held at the British Embassy.
  2. Following a UN request for further discussions between the United Kingdom and Spain regarding the future of Gibraltar, the Franco government tightened border controls, claiming that it was seeking to reduce smuggling into Spain.
  3. A March 24 memorandum of the conversation between the Secretary and Castiella is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Spain, Vol. I. Subsequently, during an April 15 discussion of Gibraltar with Prime Minister Wilson, Rusk stated: “Castiella had told him he did not think there was a really serious problem there.” A memorandum of this conversation is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL UK-US.