185. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to the Spanish Ambassador (Merry del Val)1

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

You recently discussed with Ambassador Thompson the significance of a statement made by the Secretary of Defense during Congressional hearings on the Department of Defense appropriation for the coming year.2 These hearings are held every year over a period of months and relate to all aspects of the United States military effort and requirements of the Department of Defense and the military establishment. The particular statement to which you referred consisted of extemporaneous responses by Secretary McNamara to four questions during the hearings held last February 26.

I have reviewed, together with Secretary McNamara, the questions and answers to which your Government has drawn attention. I would like to emphasize that the response to which you referred concerning the relationship of Spain to NATO was descriptive of the present situation and in no way detracts from the public position of the United States Government and Congress as favoring Spanish membership in NATO. We realize that such membership may be achieved only with unanimous agreement of all the parties concerned.

United States recognition of the important role of Spain in the security, well-being and development of the Atlantic and Mediterranean areas remains as stated in the Joint Declaration of September 26, 1963.3 This question did not arise in the course of the hearing at which Secretary McNamara testified. It is unfortunate that the brief responses given to the few questions posed at that time could have given any other impression.

We recognize that Spain is making a major contribution to the defense of Europe through its agreements and arrangements with several NATO countries, including the United States, through the use of Spanish [Page 380] military and other facilities, as well as through the extensive cooperation between the Spanish armed forces and those of several NATO countries including our own. I recall the statement of Secretary McNamara before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 13, 1963,4 that this contribution by Spain is “important to the defense of Western Europe as well as the United States.”

Secretary McNamara’s statement was related in no way to the spirit and courage of the Spanish armed forces, whose dedication and valor have been demonstrated on many occasions. The United States Government, under the Military Assistance Agreement with Spain, has been contributing to the efficiency and capability of those forces for more than ten years, and continues to do so under the current five-year program of military training and equipment grants and sales, and concomitant ship loans.

I ask that you inform your Government that we consider relations between our two countries to be based on cordial and sympathetic understanding of the interests and responsibilities of both countries, that our mutual security depends upon a continuation of these close and friendly relations, and that we trust no other construction will be placed upon these basic considerations.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Rusk 5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, NATO 6 SP. Confidential. Drafted by Beigel and cleared by Acting Secretary of Defense Vance, Llewellyn Thompson, and Leddy.
  2. In telegram 192 to Madrid, August 24, the Department of State reported that Merry Del Val had presented Thompson with a memorandum dated August 24 “indicating GOS very upset and astonished over remarks by Secretary McNamara.” (Ibid.) A copy of the Spanish memorandum is an attachment to a September 3 memorandum from Leddy to Rusk. (Ibid.) For text of McNamara’s February 26 statement, see U.S. Senate, Committee on Appropriations, Department of Defense Appropriations, 1966, Part I (Washington, 1965), pp. 343-344.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 177.
  4. For text, see U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Foreign Assistance Act of 1963: Hearings (Washington, 1963), pp. 165-179, 213-214.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.