298. Memorandum of Conversation1

Meeting between President Nixon and Mr. López Bravo, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. López Bravo delivered the letter of the Chief of the Spanish State and the President welcomed him and proposed that Mr. Kissinger be present during the conversation.

[Page 918]

President: Expressed his gratification over the conclusion of the Agreement that had just been signed.2 He well understood who the real friends were, and therefore he had to give orders for signing as soon as possible. It was necessary, however, to allow a few days to go by in order to try to identify the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who were opposing the Agreement.

He added that good relations with Spain were essential for the stability of the Mediterranean. He had no reluctance in admitting that the Agreement was good for the United States and he trusted that it would also be good for Spain.

Mr. López Bravo: He shared the President’s viewpoint and he also considered that the Agreement was good. He appreciated the attitude of the American negotiators because of their understanding and realistic approach, qualities not consistent [sic]3 with firmness.

He expressed his concern over the fate that the appropriations might be exposed to in the Congress.

President: He assured the Spanish Minister that he need not be at all concerned, first, because the competent Committee was much more important, and second, because the prestige of the President was committed in this Agreement. He was prepared to speak personally with the Senators who would be handling the credits.

The President continued, congratulating the Spanish Minister for his dynamism and the success of his foreign policy. He advised him to maintain frequent contact with Rogers and suggested that he give special care to relations with the Arab countries.

Mr. López Bravo: He stated that that was the Spanish policy exactly. He referred to the visit paid him on June 29 by the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abba Eban, when the latter expressed his desire to establish diplomatic, or at least consular, relations with Spain. The Spanish Minister told him [the Israeli Minister] frankly that in the present circumstances that would not be good for the general interest.

President: If peace were achieved, he thought that it would be to the interest of Spain itself to move progressively toward the establishment of relations with Israel. He regarded Eban as an intelligent and flexible man.

Mr. López Bravo: He agreed with the President in his judgment about Abba Eban. When the situation became normal in the Middle East, it might be opportune to follow his advice. He asked whether the [Page 919] President believed that the conflict in that area was near to being resolved.

President: There were too many factors acting simultaneously; Jarring’s work was not going to be easy, and unfortunately he [the President] could not be optimistic.

Mr. López Bravo: He had some reservations about Jarring’s possibilities; in the first place, because he had already attempted a diplomatic solution, without success, and second, because his characteristics as a cold and not very imaginative man did not help his action.

Kissinger: He fully shared Minister López Bravo’s points of view but he thought it would be difficult to replace him [Jarring] now; perhaps thought should be given to an assistant endowed with suitable characteristics.

President: He did not know what reasons had led to calling upon a Swede; perhaps thought could be given to an assistant of another nationality, an Indian, a Swiss, an Austrian, for example. He asked him [Kissinger?] to inform Rogers that very evening of his concern about Jarring’s mediation.

Mr. López Bravo: He informed him that he had told Rogers4 of a suggestion he had received from Arafat for a visit to Spain, and perhaps in September Mr. Buesir, the Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, would also come to Madrid. The visit of the Palestinian leader held little interest for Spain, although it might be of interest to the United States.

In Spain developments in Libya were being followed very closely and we were concerned over its secret agreements with Algeria to raise the price of crude petroleum and natural gas, and the arrangement that had been established not to accept new supply commitments without the agreement of the other country.

President: He considered it of great interest that he [Mr. López Bravo] should receive Arafat. The United States did not intend to ignore the Palestinians, and it was very important to know what kind of person he was, his points of view, lines of thought to which he appeared to be responsive, and everything else that the Spanish Minister might consider useful. One might even think of winning him over to the cause of peace by means of reasonable formulas.

As for Libya, that was a country that much concerned the United States, in line with what the Spanish Minister had said about the new policy with Algeria, which could so greatly affect the oil companies. He thanked him for the information he had given Rogers on this possible [Page 920] future contact, and suggested that he keep in frequent touch with the Secretary of State.

Spain, the President continued saying, was a European and Mediterranean “power” and therefore it now had to play a decisive role in the policy of that area, and specifically, of all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. He asked the Spanish Minister to pay careful attention to the African countries.

Mr. López Bravo: He recalled to the President that in the U.A.R Spain was taking care of United States interests.

Both the President and Mr. Kissinger acknowledged this fact and the President added that, indeed, all of the reports bore witness to the efficiency with which that task was being done.

President: Answering Mr. López Bravo’s question about the possibility of a visit to Spain, the President said that it would be difficult this year because of the November elections, but he hoped to go next year. Spain, he said, was a wonderful country and he advised Mr. Kissinger, who has never been there, to look for time in his work schedule to make the trip. The President recalled very clearly his visit to Spain and named with pleasure the cities he had visited.

A moment before the farewells were said, Ambassadors Hill and Argüelles entered the presidential office.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 705, Country Files—Europe, Spain, Vol. III. Secret; Nodis. A typed note reads: “Spanish Foreign Minister’s Record of His Conversation with the President.” The original is a translation prepared by the Division of Language Services, Department of State, after August 11 and forwarded to the White House. The Spanish language text was not found.
  2. For text of the Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation signed in Washington August 6, see 21 UST 1667.
  3. All brackets are in the original.
  4. Presumably prior to or during the signature of the agreement. No record of their conversation was found.