294. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Spanish Base Negotiations, and Franco letter to the President

As you know, Spanish Foreign Minister Lopez Bravo was in Washington April 13–14 to continue negotiations on base facilities and the general cooperation agreement. He met with Secretary Rogers and Under Secretary Johnson, as well as the Vice President and Secretaries Stans and Finch.2 During his meeting with the Secretary, Lopez Bravo presented a letter from Franco to the President. A brief memo to the [Page 909] President enclosing Franco’s letter is at Tab A,3 should you want to forward it.

Lopez Bravo’s visit had been preceded by a series of negotiating sessions between Alex Johnson and Spanish Ambassador Arguelles, during which we exchanged preliminary drafts of the proposed general agreement of cooperation.4 Lt. General Diez Alegria also came to Washington last week and brought with him the defense portion of the agreement. The following main differences still remain on the text of the agreement:

—more precision is needed on the degree of internal physical control we would have on the premises of the base facilities;

—the disposition of the residual value of the US investment in the bases; the Spanish would like us to give them clear title now;

—the method of making changes in the use of the facilities; the Spanish insist on express agreement, and we want consultations only;

—although we have agreed to drop the provision in the current agreement permitting automatic reaction by our forces in the event of imminent attack, and have accepted the necessity of prior consultation, we are insisting that it must be clear that without consultation U.S. forces could defend themselves if attacked;

—finally, the Spanish appear to insist on retaining the language of the 1963 joint declaration which comes very close to implying a U.S. security commitment to Spain; to continue this language would cause us difficulties with Congress.

One significant breakthrough was Lopez Bravo’s statement that his government was willing to have us maintain all our present facilities, as we had requested. However, this acceptance in principle does not mean that we will in fact be able to retain all facilities. Lopez Bravo hastened to add to his statement that in return Spain wished security through material assistance since we could not offer a security commitment. Alex Johnson and Ambassador Arguelles will meet on April 205 to begin talks on how we compensate the Spanish for the facilities on which Lopez Bravo said Spain would be “flexible.” The hard bar[Page 910]gaining will follow, and it is possible that we may have to scale down our base requirements.

Lopez Bravo was successful in his attempt to secure an announcement at the end of his visit that the U.S. had decided to reclassify Spain into a more beneficial category in our Foreign Direct Investment Program. This will facilitate U.S. companies wishing to invest in Spain, but it will also lead to pressure on us from other countries seeking a better status under the program. We had hoped to use this re-classification as a bargaining point later during the negotiations, but Lopez Bravo successfully insisted that it not be linked to the defense agreement.

On the question of the Spanish-EC preferential trade agreement, Lopez Bravo told Secretary Stans than Spain considered the agreement consistent with GATT, and assured him that U.S. trade would not suffer. Secretary Stans said that we still lacked adequate information on the agreement to take a position. The issue was left with both Secretary Stans and the Foreign Minister agreeing to have frequent consultations in order to avoid friction over this issue. With respect to our interest in assisting Spain’s educational reform Lopez Bravo suggested that we send a team of experts to Madrid to define the areas in which we might help. He told Secretary Finch that Spain’s greatest need was US training of professors of mathematics, physics and chemistry.

The question of the Spain-NATO link was not discussed during the Lopez Bravo visit, except that Secretary Rogers did mention that he had raised it during the Brandt visit. Brandt was non-committal, and Danish Prime Minister Baunsgaard was predictably cool when the Secretary mentioned the issue to him earlier this week.6 The Spanish have found very attractive our willingness actively to support some form of linkage, and have made clear the Spanish priorities: liaison with SACEUR, a link with NATO commands including Iberlant, some form of link which would give Spain a voice on political matters such as European Security Conference, and finally, association with CCMS. The main Spain emphasis is on the SACEUR link. They recognize that seeking NATO agreement on one or more of these forms of linkage will be difficult, and cannot be expected to be even near accomplishment by the time the new defense agreement is ready for signature.

In short, some significant progress has been made, but hard bargaining remains. Under Secretary Johnson and Assistant Secretary Hillenbrand may go to Madrid in mid-May for another session with Lopez Bravo. For the moment, the negotiations seem to be going well, and there does not seem to be any need for White House intervention at this time.

[Page 911]


That you sign the memo for the President on the Franco letter at Tab A.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 762, Presidential Correspondence, Spain Franco corres. No classification marking. Sent for action. The annotation “Haig for” in Haig’s handwriting is on the first page.
  2. Lopez Bravo’s discussions with Rogers and Johnson were reported in telegram 56295 to Madrid, April 16 (ibid.) and in telegrams 65025 and 56254, both April 14. (Both ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 SP–US) No records of his other discussions were found.
  3. Not printed. Franco’s April 10 letter was in response to a March 18 message from Nixon given to Lopez Bravo during his March 17–18 meetings with U.S. officials in Washington. Both messages stressed the respective heads of state’s desire for progress on base negotiations. Both are ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 762, Presidential Correspondence, Spain Franco corres.
  4. The United States presented a draft of a bilateral agreement on April 10. It was described in telegram 53015 to Madrid, April 10. (Ibid., Box 705, Country Files—Europe, Spain, Vol. II) Initial discussions with Spanish officials were reported in telegram 51926 to Madrid, April 9. (Ibid.)
  5. Their meeting was reported in telegram 59226 to Madrid, April 21. (Ibid.)
  6. This meeting was reported in telegram 56113 to Madrid, April 16. (Ibid.)
  7. Kissinger signed the memorandum and forwarded it to Nixon.