206. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Base Negotiations


  • Foreign
    • His Excellency Fernando Castiella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
    • His Excellency the Marquis de Merry del Val, Ambassador of Spain
    • The Honorable Adolfo Martin-Gamero, Director General, Office of Diplomatic Information, Spanish Foreign Ministry
    • The Honorable Nuno Aguirre de Carcer, Director General of North American, Middle and Far Eastern Affairs, Spanish Foreign Ministry
    • The Honorable Aurelio Valls, Minister Counselor, Embassy of Spain
    • Mr. Marcelino Oreja, Director, Technical Cabinet, Spanish Foreign Ministry
  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    • Mr. Paul C. Warnke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
    • Mr. Walter J. Stoessel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
    • Mr. George W. Landau, Country Director for Spain and Portugal
    • Mr. Joseph L. Smith, Country Officer for Spain
At the conclusion of the discussion on Gibraltar,2 the Secretary inquired whether the Foreign Minister had discussed all the topics on his list which he had read to him at the beginning of the meeting. The Secretary added that the question of base negotiations had been on the Minister’s list.
The Minister replied in the affirmative and said that the question of renewal of the base agreements had been the reason for his visit to Washington. He said that he had come here on an official mission on behalf of his Government to request that the 1963 base agreements, due for renewal in 1968, be revised. He added that by and large Spain was satisfied with the existing relationship, but that there had been many changes in the last four years. He said it was the position of Spain that the agreements of 1963 must be revised and adapted to the current world situation. He enumerated some of the changes which had [Page 405] occurred since the signing of the last agreement, such as French military withdrawal from NATO, the Soviet penetration into the Mediterranean, the increased Chinese thermonuclear potential, the development of the ABM systems by the United States and the U.S.S.R., and the pending NPT. He stated that serious consultations would be necessary before renewal of the bases agreements could be agreed on.
The Secretary asked how we should proceed on this subject, and the Foreign Minister replied that in order to avoid problems and a last minute rush similar to what had happened in 1963, talks should begin soon—as soon as possible. He expressed the opinion that diplomatic channels should be used, of course, without prejudice to advice and assistance from the military.
The Secretary suggested that it would be worth having such conversations through diplomatic channels, which might begin with a tour d’horizon to determine what needs to be done first.
Foreign Minister Castiella replied that he was in complete agreement, and added that these conversations should be on a friendly basis and should consider the question in depth and in detail. He stated that neither country should fall into the infantile pitfalls of saying such things as “the bases are no longer of any interest to the United States” or “Spain does not need the friendship of the United States”. He suggested that the bases were useful and that our friendship was based on a solid foundation, even though no relations between two countries could ever be completely perfect.
The Secretary replied that our friendship with Spain was important to us and that we would be willing to brief the Spanish in great detail on matters of mutual interest, as, for example, the ABM and its full significance, the question of China’s nuclear potential, and others.
Mr. Kohler in reply to the Secretary’s inquiry stated that we could set up briefings on various subjects mentioned by the Secretary either in Washington or Madrid and that we would be in touch with Ambassador Merry Del Val regarding the arrangements.
The Foreign Minister replied that it was fine to receive these briefings, but that he wanted to emphasize that we should not delay too long in getting to the negotiations. The important point at the moment was to go directly to the foundations of the agreements and begin discussions for their revision.
In conclusion, the Foreign Minister said that Spain considered itself a friend but not a satellite of the United States. The Secretary agreed with this statement, and the meeting ended with mutual assurances that the negotiations should be accomplished in the spirit of continued cooperation between the two countries.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15-4 SP-US. Confidential. Drafted by Landau and Smith and approved in S on November 22. The memorandum is Part 10 of 10. The meeting was held in the James Madison Room in the Department of State.
  2. The memorandum of conversation covering this part of the discussion is ibid., POL 19-GIB.