200. Letter From the Ambassador to Spain (Duke) to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On my visit to Washington last month I unfortunately missed seeing you, but had the opportunity to explain, first to George Ball and Alex Johnson, and then to the President2 my views in some detail on the desirability of drawing Spain into the Western Alliance. The President did not express himself one way or the other, but I was very encouraged by the attention he gave to what I had to say.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Castiella has received your reply of June 23 to his earlier letter on the Gibraltar problem3 and has gone out of his way to impress on me how grateful he was for the friendly and understanding tone of your letter. His enthusiasm reflects his intense preoccupation with Gibraltar, and, I believe, underlines the importance of some progress on that thorny problem so that it will not stand in the way of considering a place for Spain in the Alliance.

In the light of my conversation with the President, I have hopes that both these matters can be reviewed with Prime Minister Wilson [Page 398] on his visit to Washington later this month.4 While I fully realize the desirability—even the necessity—of non-intervention in the Gibraltar matter, it may well be that a word from the President to the Prime Minister expressing our hope for a reasonable solution might be helpful in avoiding the consequences of a bitter stalemate.

As you know, the Spanish have told us that they will use all possible leverage to achieve some advance on the Gibraltar problem and toward their other pressing foreign policy objectives. We are beginning to feel the effects of their efforts, particularly in our military relations. In a broader sense, however, I believe the moment has arrived for us and our European friends to take action if we are not to forfeit the chance of helping Spain emerge from the approaching crisis of succession with a reasonably liberal government and an anchor to westward.

An understanding on this subject with the British would make it possible for us to move ahead on approaches to our other friends in Europe on Spanish membership in the Alliance.5

Internal changes in Spain as reflected in the new press law and the pending religious freedom legislation as well as other signs of progress should give us talking points in Spain’s favor when the moment is opportune.

I do appreciate the complexity of the problems we have in NATO at this time, but I would hope that by the end of the year we would have begun high-level consultations on this subject. Any evidence of progress would, I believe, be of the greatest significance in keeping Spain to the course which serves our broad interests in this part of the world.

With cordial regards.


Angie Duke
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL SP-US. Secret.
  2. No record of these meetings was found.
  3. Copies of Castiella’s May 26 letter and Rusk’s June 23 reply are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 19 GIB.
  4. See Document 266.
  5. In a July 22 reply to Duke, Rusk commented that Gibraltar would only be discussed if raised by the British and reiterated the need for Spain and the United Kingdom to work out an arrangement for the future of Gibraltar. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL SP-US)