211. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Jose Maria de Areilza, Count of Motrico, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of State Department
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Ambassador Wells Stabler, U.S. Ambassador to Spain
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

Kissinger: Mr. Foreign Minister.

Areilza: Mr. Secretary of State. It was an excellent speech [the Secretary’s speech at CIEC]. Very substantial.

Kissinger: Substantial isn’t the same as wonderful.

[Photographers came in briefly and then left].

I wanted to establish contact with you. I look forward to working with you.

Areilza: First of all, I have a message from the King for you. He asks me to convey his good wishes, his gratefulness for your helping him in his first days and the first steps. He would like to ask you to do something for the beginning of the new monarchy and his reign, something possible for him to achieve. He is realistic.

Kissinger: I know him. I had some exchanges with him. I know you were his first choice as Foreign Minister. So I know he has some influence. [Laughter].

Areilza: He asks you for help on something. I was in your country and helped develop the first agreement of 1953. The progress of those bases has been different; the equilibrium of nuclear warfare is very different—what you have written about in your many important speeches, which I have read with care. I won’t say it is an unpopular issue, but it has to be handled with care.

Franco never wanted to bring international issues into domestic politics. The worst aspect of his secrecy was that he never explained anything. “This shouldn’t be mentioned”—that was his approach.

[Page 692]

Now the rounds have gone on and on. I have studied the papers with their author, Cortina. He is of a different character from me. He is more of an introvert; I am more open. He explained to me the framework and what is signed and agreed by both. We will honor that, of course, and won’t even discuss it.

If I could digress for a moment: The Spanish translation is very bad. And I think if we are going to show it, we would want a better translation.

Kissinger: Why don’t you do it, and show it to us.

Areilza: I am doing it.

The second thing is, a gesture that the King asks, a desideratum, is: I know that the situation in your country between the Congress and the President is very different from the 1950’s. If I had my say, I would ask you very frankly: Could you get two-thirds of the Senate to give that Executive Agreement some higher formality?

Kissinger: I don’t exclude it.

Areilza: We are going to look into the seven lateral agreements on education, etc., as well as the general agreement. We are looking at them and will check them. But what I am asking is to bring the agreements up to a higher level of treaty, ratified by the Senate.

Kissinger: [To Hartman:] How long does it take? Forever.

Hartman: It could be done.

Kissinger: I am sympathetic. My major concern is that I don’t want to make a precedent that every base agreement should be a treaty. But this is more than a base agreement.

Areilza: Senators Scott and Mansfield said they wanted to help the new government. I know that isn’t the same, but. . .

Kissinger: No, we could get two-thirds. I am sympathetic. My only concern is the precedent with respect to base agreements.

I will let you know in the New Year.

Areilza: Thank you. It would be an excellent gift for the Monarchy. It would be something he achieved.

Kissinger: We will talk to a number of Senators and let you know the first week of January.

Areilza: Thank you.

Our friends Perinat and Rovira have been looking at the draft on the U.S.-Spain Council.

Stabler: The overall coordinating body.

Areilza: They would like some reference to coordination with the Atlantic defensive system. I know the problem.

Kissinger: It is not the first time we have heard it.

[Page 693]

Areilza: When I was in the United States, I always used to ask for a resolution from Congress to bring Spain into NATO. It was a utopian idea. General Franco always asked me why I asked for it.

We got out of the Sahara just in time. The last soldiers will leave the 20th or 21st of December.

Kissinger: Will the Moroccans get it all?

Areilza: The northern part. And Mauritania the southern part. And the Algerians will start a guerrilla war.

Sixty thousand of our men are now embarked. They are tough guys, good soldiers, practically the elite, the cream of the Spanish army. They didn’t lose a war, but they are unhappy having to tiptoe out. My personal philosophy is, as I explained to the King, that if they go to small garrisons around Spain, there will be a kind of ferment. My idea is if you can give them the idea they should forget about Africa, and think about Europe, it would give them a positive future.

You understand what I mean.

The Spanish Army is, I would say, the most healthy in Europe, because there is not such infiltration of Communist groups, and there is much spirit. It could be a big help to the strategic defense of Europe. I understand the problem of all these small countries with one batallion riding on a bike, like Denmark or Luxembourg. We would like, in all this nexus, something about the joint attitude of Spain and the Atlantic system.

Kissinger: Between us?

Areilza: Yes.

Kissinger: I think that we can do. Don’t we have it in the Basic Agreement?

Stabler: In the Framework Agreement. But the wording . . . .

Kissinger: We will take a look at it.

Areilza: There is a third point, last but not least, which is money. I am not a greedy man for myself, but for public opinion. This money is better: the Ex-Im Bank has been very helpful with higher lines of credit. And the Navy has been hiring things. If we could go up from $675 million. . . .

Stabler: But there are other things added to it.

Areilza: If we could go up to a round figure, to $1 billion, to impress public opinion, even if we can add in things that are already taken care of in other channels, this would be helpful.

Kissinger: One billion of new money we couldn’t do. But we will look at the other items.

Hartman: The problem is to balance their need for a higher figure with our need . . . .

[Page 694]

Areilza: If we could show a Treaty, the connection with the Atlantic, and money, it would help counter all things the Communist Party is saying. Because all the opposition is from the Communist Party.

Kissinger: The first, we can look at. The second, we can do. The third—we need for our public opinion a lower figure but we will look at it. We want to help.

Areilza: We will make a calendario, if Mr. Wells Stabler agrees.

Kissinger: We will make a calendario even if Stabler doesn’t agree. [Laughter]

Areilza: We will go back and look at the translation of that paragraph.

Kissinger: The treaty we will have to speak to Senators about. We will get back to you in the first part of January.

Areilza: If all those things can be done the first half of January . . . We can send Rovira.

Kissinger: You are always welcome to come.

Areilza: Maybe. You can come to Spain and sign it.

Kissinger: All right.

Areilza: Because the King wants to see you. You can go on television. You are a big superstar. [Laughter]

Kissinger: What do I do? Fight a bull? [Laughter]

Areilza: If you went on television and explained the situation, it would be a tremendous shouldering of the monarchy. It would be helpful.

Kissinger: I will come on my way from Moscow. The 24th of January. May I interfere in your affairs? My European colleagues are always trying to push you. And there are some Americans. I want to tell you my view. As I look at Spanish history, the ability to compromise of Spanish individuals is not . . . what made Spain great. Therefore, to expect pluralism to come tomorrow is . . . . I have long believed that one of the worst mistakes we ever made was to encourage the opening to the left in Italy. It made the Christian Democrats dependent on the Left and it excluded the Right. The analogy with Italy may not be right; maybe Portugal more.

But I want you to know you won’t be under pressure from the United States. You know there must be some evolution, but you are doing it. These people take no responsibility if it blows up and they won’t help you.

This is none of our business, but I wanted you to know my view. If some Americans press you, if they are State Department, let me know; if they are not State Department, ignore them.

[Page 695]

Areilza: I agree with your words. We need to have some popular understanding. I was once discussing something with a Greek, and Henry Cabot Lodge was there. It was a translation problem about the word “compromise.” So he asked the Greek: What is the Spanish word for “compromise?” He said, “civil war.” [Laughter]

Kissinger: Yielding to pressure is not an outstanding Spanish characteristic.

[Secretary Kissinger walked the Minister downstairs to the door.]

  1. Summary: Kissinger, Stabler, Hartman, and Areilza discussed the U.S.-Spanish base negotiations, the Spanish Sahara, and the Spanish political situation.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 23, Classified External Memcons, May–December 1975, Folder 5. Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original. The meeting took place in the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. Kissinger was in Paris from December 15 to 17 to attend the Conference on International Economic Cooperation.