220. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Spain1

257357. 1. The following is based on an uncleared memcon,2 is Noforn, FYI only, and subject to revision upon review.

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2. At his request, Spanish FonMin Castiella called on Secretary October 17 ostensibly for routine protocol farewell,3 but conversation developed into substantive exchange on renewal of bases agreement. Castiella was in an extremely relaxed and cordial mood.

3. After opening cordialities, Secretary asked FonMinister how one should approach a resumption of negotiations on the base negotiations—from a political or military point of view. The FonMinister said that military aid which was basic and fundamental was first and political aspects could be handled through regular diplomatic procedures. There then ensued an exchange on some of the complications that had developed during the earlier talks. The Secretary noted that one of the problems for the US was the continuing drain caused by the war in Viet-Nam and said that if that were behind us the US would have been in a different budgetary position, but unfortunately war was not yet behind us.

4. The Secretary then suggested that there were three stages which resumed negotiations might take: a) The Secretary and the FonMinister should reach a political agreement on the fact that as a matter of general policy both Spain and US wanted the Agreement to continue in the future. b) Then the best military minds of both countries should get together quietly and discreetly to discuss military cooperation between the two countries. (During such talks both sides would try to come up with common strategic concepts which would constitute framework within which US-Spanish cooperation would continue. US would not want to question Spain’s sovereign responsibility for its own armed forces but would just discuss matter of conceivable common strategic concept and the provision of military equipment from that vantage point.) c) There could then be political conversations to clear up any remaining bilateral military or political matters.

5. Castiella enthusiastically endorsed Secretary’s outline and stated both countries should not waste any time in setting up first contacts which should be between high-level and discreet military representatives. (Castiella indicated General Diez-Alegria would be a good representative for Spain.) Castiella said that Secretary’s emphasis on concept of common strategy was of greatest importance because of sensitivity of Spanish people and desire to be a real part of Western defense effort. Secretary commented that in terms of over-all strategic concept and security of both countries it should be possible for both sides to identify their common requirements.

6. Secretary and FonMinister agreed on desirability of continuing Agreement and that they should now proceed to step two. Subject to [Page 446] agreement by Secretary Clifford and Spanish authorities, Secretary and Castiella expressed hope that top level military talks could start on November 15. The Secretary noted that by then US elections would have taken place and views of new Administration could be sought during course of negotiations.

7. Castiella took up the question of the Secretary’s letter on the balance of payments situation which had been drafted in September and said that it would be appreciated if the letter could be sent without being considered part of the base negotiations because it would have a very powerful psychological effect, even though it was not a commitment on the part of the US. The Secretary promised to consider the matter.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL SP-US. Secret; Immediate; Noforn. Drafted by Gebelt and approved by Leddy. Repeated to USCINCEUR and CINCUSAFE.
  2. A memorandum of conversation is ibid., DEF 15-4, SP-US.
  3. Castiella was in New York attending the UN General Assembly meetings.
  4. No letter has been found.