199. Telegram From the Embassy in Spain to the Department of State1

1809. 1. Largely as a matter of courtesy Ambassador asked for an appointment to see FonMin Castiella June 16 following return from consultation in Washington. Castiella responded immediately with request Ambassador see him same day and took occasion launch into hard hitting bid for US support Spanish aspirations in Gibraltar dispute.

2. He began by lamenting reports to effect Ambassador “not sympathetic” to Spanish position. Asserting Gibraltar problem over-riding in Spanish relations with West, Castiella urged us recognize potentially serious repercussions on US and Western defense interests (he mentioned overflights and base agreement extension) if Spain rebuffed and forced seek other foreign policy options. He claimed Spain had already been approached to join new partnership along what he called “French and Soviet line” adding that for present Spain of course not taking such [Page 396] overtures seriously. FonMin then stressed great importance of military base in Western Mediterranean and traced out concept of vast military base complex involving Rota, Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla which could become available to West if Gibraltar problem settled, since Spain prepared accept same conditions from Morocco on Ceuta and Melilla as it offering UK on Gibraltar.

3. Ambassador countered by reiterating US position as clearly stated by Secretary to Castiella last year2 and added observations on importance welfare of Gibraltar population.

4. Of interest in this connection is remark made to Ambassador earlier in day by Vice President and Chief High General Staff Munoz-Grandes to effect French had been acting in most friendly manner toward Spain. FonOff official (Aguirre de Carcer) mentioned to Ambassador just before call on FonMin that it French policy to eliminate US influence Spain. Same official later told DCM that report of Ambassadors alleged lack sympathy for Spanish position on Gibraltar had come from French sources.

5. Comment: Reports of active and increasing machinations by French are in marked contrast to assurances given Ambassador and DCM personally by French Ambassador in recent months to effect that despite divergencies on military matters France intent on retaining most friendly ties with US and anxious cooperate with US in Spain. Must also be noted that ready provision these reports by Spanish sources could reflect desire foster atmosphere US-French competition in Spain which GOS could hope exploit. Allusions to alleged invitations join France and USSR in “new partnership” as alternative to present Spanish ties with US seem represent rather forced attempt to show that Spain has “somewhere else to go” if its aspirations not satisfied in present context.

6. However, suspect Castiella’s outburst stems more from his impatience and frustration over poor outlook early solution Gibraltar problem on terms offered London last month. Castiella’s hope for smashing diplomatic victory partly to boost his prospects in transition and post-Franco stages could be waning and he seeking means retrieve situation. (Castiella of course not only high GOS official now preoccupied with personal future.)

7. Although exaggerated terms of Castiella’s performance detract from credibility, we must be prepared for further demands on Gibraltar problem and intensified Spanish attempts to apply [Page 397] pressure on US in any manner available to them, including overflight question.

8. We shall submit further comments next week.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 19 GIB. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Paris, London, Bonn, and Moscow.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 181.
  3. In telegram 1817 from Madrid, June 21, the Embassy reported on other Spanish approaches designed to elicit U.S. involvement in the Gibraltar issue. The Embassy judged the Spanish approaches “clumsy and tactless effort at coercion,” but added that the United States had an interest in heading off a clash between Spain and the United Kingdom. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 19 GIB) Telegram 1684, June 23, instructed the Embassy that U.S. policy would be one of strict neutrality in the Gibralta issue. (Ibid.)