278. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Spanish Base Negotiations


  • Spain
  • The Honorable Nuno Aguirre de Carcer, Director General of American and Far Eastern Affairs, Spanish Foreign Ministry
  • Mr. Jaime de Ojeda, First Secretary, Spanish Embassy
  • Mr. Francisco Cadiz, North American Section, Spanish Foreign Ministry
  • United States
  • The Honorable U. Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Mr. Ralph Earle II, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Mr. George W. Landau, Country Director for Spain and Portugal
  • Brigadier General Rex H. Hampton, Director, Western European Region, Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Mr. Roland Homet, Assistant Legal Adviser for European Affairs
  • Mr. Joseph L. Smith, Country Officer for Spain
[Page 860]

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer, referring to the discussion on March 282 repeated that his comments were preliminary personal reactions to the matters discussed and documents provided him.

Under Secretary Johnson said that he understood and that he wished to make clear that any comments or suggested language changes which he made were also to be considered ad referendum.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said that he had a reaction from Madrid on the draft notes and letters which had been given him by the Under Secretary earlier in the week.3 He said that he first wanted to make it clear that the U.S. was in Spain because they wanted to be, not because the Spanish Government wanted them there. He said it was the view of the Spanish Government that some form of de-escalation in U.S. presence should be implemented. He said that Foreign Minister Castiella had raised the question of de-escalation with Secretary Rusk on September 16, 19684 and that the U.S. had suggested that the airbase at Moron could be placed in standby status. This action, he said, would not be of interest to the Spanish Government since it would probably increase the level of U.S. presence at Torrejon which was a “sore thumb.” He said that in a conversation between Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs Sedo and Deputy Secretary of Defense Nitze,5 the latter had stated that Torrejon could be closed if the Spanish Government insisted, although such action would be extremely costly to the U.S. Government. Under Secretary Sedo had indicated at that time that the Spanish Government would prefer a reduction or closing of Torrejon. Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said this was still the Spanish position.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then began a discussion of possible Spanish association with NATO. He said Spain would have to be invited to become associated with NATO and would never ask for such association. He referred to a Congressional Concurrent Resolution of 1957 and said that the Spanish Government believed that the U.S. had never seriously tried to persuade its NATO allies to accept Spanish association. He said that with the forthcoming 20th Anniversary of NATO6 there would be a unique opportunity to raise the question at the highest level and he hoped that the United States would be willing to do so.

Under Secretary Johnson said that this matter had been raised with certain NATO allies by this administration, and a flat negative response [Page 861] had been received regarding Spanish association, even at the lowest level.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said that such association was a “key” to the solution of the Gibraltar problem as well as an important factor in U.S.-Spanish relations. He said he had discussed this matter with David Bendall of the UK Foreign Office during a recent visit by Mr. Bendall to Madrid.

Under Secretary Johnson said this was a matter which the Spanish Government would have to continue to pursue on its own.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer, referring to the draft documents given to him earlier, said that the Spanish would prefer the document officially extending the Defense Agreement to be in a form different than that presented by the U.S. (exchange of letters). He suggested a protocol or a joint declaration. He also said that it would be essential to have a reference to the 1963 Joint Declaration in such a document.7 He also said that a reference to “political” discussions could be dropped and reference to “matters of common interest” substituted.

Under Secretary Johnson asked if Mr. Aguirre had any language changes to suggest in the U.S. draft classified letter on military assistance. Mr. Aguirre replied that they wanted to have a reference to support for Spanish Defense industries inserted. There then ensued a discussion of various language changes in the draft letter.

Mr. Aguirre referred to the suggested revision of the Technical Agreement and said that the GOS would like to have an exchange of letters or notes on those points where there was mutual agreement on changes in the existing Technical Agreement.

Mr. Homet said that he assumed this was not a “sticking point” in the negotiations for the extension of the Defense Agreement, and Mr. Aguirre replied that it was not.

Under Secretary Johnson said that he would be glad to look at any suggestion Mr. Aguirre wished to make with respect to the Technical Agreement revision. He said the U.S. would be willing to consider the matter but wanted to make it clear that at this point and until we had seen the suggestions we could only agree in principle.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said he wished to include a reference to Spanish eligibility under the Military Sales Act8 in the classified military assistance letter. He said that General Warren had told him in their meeting the day before that Spain was eligible under the Act.

[Page 862]

The Under Secretary said that it would be necessary to have our lawyers tailor any such reference to the provisions of the Act although he saw no difficulty with some reference.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then turned to the draft Eximbank letter and suggested that a phrase be inserted indicating that the $100 million credit was in addition to normal Eximbank loans to Spain, and another phrase be inserted that the credits could be used for social development purposes in addition to military equipment purchases.

The Under Secretary said this matter would have to be carefully examined and discussed with both Treasury and the Eximbank.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said that he had no change to propose in the letter concerning excess equipment which might become available after the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam, and no comment to make regarding the exchange of notes on the ship loan extension. Referring to the draft exchange on Colossus I,9 Mr. Aguirre said that it was not accurate to say that final approval had been held up pending these negotiations. He said that he would prefer “final decision” and Under Secretary Johnson agreed that if this were more accurate we would have no objection to such change.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then referred to the exchange of notes clarifying the duration of the extension of the Defense Agreement and explained that since the 1953 Agreement had been submitted to the Cortes, it would be necessary to have precise language to avoid any misunderstanding on the question of the one-year withdrawal period and the U.S. suggestion that the six-month consultation period also applied. He said that the Spanish Government and Cortes understood the Agreement to be for 20 years and that although they could agree to a one-year withdrawal period following the conclusion of the 20-year agreement they could not accept the logic of any argument also adding a six-month consultation period. The Under Secretary replied that this question had to be studied by our lawyers, and that it was our present position that the six-month consultation period also applied to the second of the two five-year extensions under the Agreement.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then turned to the question of a Joint Military Consultative Committee and read General Diez-Alegria’s proposed draft of a third agreed minute between Generals Burchinal and Diez-Alegria. He said that in line with the military talks on this subject, the GOS and especially the Spanish military were strongly in favor of a “joint military planning group.”

Under Secretary Johnson explained that he would have considerable difficulty in accepting any reference to a military group, since [Page 863] “planning” would be seen as a red flag by members of Congress who were highly critical of just this sort of thing. He said that we would consider the Spanish arguments on this point and study the matter to determine what we could do to meet Spanish concerns.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer launched into a long diatribe concerning the failure of the United States to treat Spain as a partner. He emphasized the Spanish view that the U.S. had refused to cooperate fully with Spain in the field of defense planning. He said that some form of military consultative committee was extremely important to the Spanish military and failure to provide it would hurt their pride and could thereby cause serious difficulties in reaching agreement.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then said he would like to include a few matters related to the revision of the Technical Agreement (SOFA) in the exchange of documents extending the Defense Agreement.

The Under Secretary said he would defer to Mr. Earle on this question since it principally concerned the Department of Defense and since Mr. Earle had been the U.S. negotiator in the talks on revision of the Technical Agreement.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said the GOS would like some type of document or letter stating that conversations or talks would commence between the U.S. and Spain on the possible modification of facilities provided the U.S. in Spain. He explained that these referred to those facilities which had been originally included in the 1953 Technical Annex but never used. He said such a letter would be very useful vis-à-vis Spanish public opinion to show that U.S. presence was being reduced.

The Under Secretary said we could study this question. He said we would probably have no problem with the substance, but that it would be a matter of the form. If we made public announcements concerning a reduction of our bases in Spain and at the same time increased the level of military assistance, the Congress would again raise questions regarding the judgment of the Executive Branch.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said he would like some kind of open letter on Eximbank credits for normal Spanish industrial development. Mr. Landau said that there would not be any need for this, as the Eximbank letter on military sales referred already to “over and above” normal credits. Mr. Aguirre agreed.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said he would like some kind of confidential letter indicating U.S. support for Spain in various international economic and scientific organizations, similar to the 1963 letter.

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer said he wished to raise and discuss the question of movement of aircraft to restricted areas and overflights with nuclear components. This had been raised in the context of revision of the Technical Agreement, but the U.S. negotiator had said that it would have to be handled later at the political level.

[Page 864]

The Under Secretary said this was a complex matter and he would prefer to postpone discussion on it until the next meeting (April 1).

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer repeated his earlier statement that in whatever document is finally decided on to provide the formal extension of the Defense Agreement, a reaffirmation of the 1963 Joint Declaration is essential. He also said that an exchange of messages between the President and General Franco would be very helpful. He said one had taken place between President Kennedy and General Franco in 1963.10

Mr. Aguirre de Carcer then said that the GOS wanted a Secret letter in which the security guarantee as expressed in the 1963 Joint Declaration was repeated. He insisted that this would add nothing new—simply reaffirm the 1963 Joint Declaration. He said mention should be made of Rota and perhaps Colossus I. This was necessary in view of the type and level of use that is being made of Rota and other installations. He said the U.S. should confirm in the letter its intention to carry out its guarantees for Spain’s security contained in the 1963 Joint Declaration. The letter would be secret and for “our private bilateral use.”

The Under Secretary said he would comment on this suggestion at the next meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15 SP–US. Secret. Drafted by Smith and approved in J on April 15. The meeting took place in Johnson’s office.
  2. A memorandum of conversation is ibid.
  3. See footnote 10, Document 277.
  4. September 16. A report of this meeting is in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XII, Western Europe, Document 216.
  5. No record of this meeting was found.
  6. The North Atlantic Council commemorated NATO’s 20th anniversary at its April 10–11 meeting in Washington.
  7. For text of the joint declaration concerning the renewal of the 1953 defense agreement, together with the related exchange of notes signed at New York September 26, 1963, see 14 UST 1406.
  8. For text of the Foreign Military Sales Act, P.L. 90–629, approved October 22, 1968, see 82 Stat. 1320.
  9. Reference to an intelligence program.
  10. An apparent reference to exchanges of oral messages between the two heads of state. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XIII, Western Europe and Canada, Documents 368 and 372.