207. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Manuel de Prado
  • Arthur Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Notetaker

De Prado: It was kind of you to see me in the middle of all the excitement going on here in Washington.

The Secretary: No, I want to assure you that the situation in Spain is as important as anything else. I am very pleased that the Prince sent you here so that we could have this talk.

De Prado: The Prince has called me to say that he agrees and is very pleased that you could come on December 15.

The Secretary: Yes, I may arrive in the evening of the 14th and I should be able to spend all day in discussions.

De Prado: The Prince will set aside all of his time for you and he very much looks forward to seeing you and discussing all of these issues.

The Secretary: (to Hartman) Did you get me that estimate on Algeria or are you afraid that Hyland is overworked?

Hartman: Yes, and it was included in the paper that you read. Basically what it says is that the Algerians have the capability. We are not sure of their intentions. (Secretary calls Hyland and discussed paper.)

The Secretary: On the Sahara, I am afraid there is not much more that I can say. Obviously the preferred solution is that it be settled quickly. In fact I must tell you very frankly that I have never understood the Spanish position on this and in fact, I think the Spanish Government was on the wrong wicket. After all, what does self-[Typeset Page 670]determination mean to a bunch of Bedouins wandering around in the desert?

De Prado: You are right on that and I can tell you it was mostly Cortina’s fault.

The Secretary: But we have to deal with the present conditions and the question is can Algeria intervene?

De Prado: The final position taken by the Moroccan Prime Minister yesterday was that Morocco insists on a direct transfer of sovereignty from Spain to Morocco and they even suggest a joint “green march” where the Spanish and the Moroccan’s would participate in the turnover. The Spanish Government has said that they can only accept the Waldheim solution which is to transfer sovereignty through the United Nations. [2 lines not declassified] But I can tell you if the Moroccans go ahead with their march—and it really amounts to an invasion because there will be troops present—it will present the greatest problem to the Army and to the Prince. At the moment the Moroccan’s are insisting that they will send 10 thousand into the Sahara each day.

The Secretary: How far in?

De Prado: I believe they are going all the way to the capital of the Sahara—Aluin—and that is about 250 kilometers.

The Secretary: I think it is closer than that.

De Prado: The Prince says that if the people march into the border area, that is all right but if they get closer to the area where Spanish troops are located, this can become a matter of prestige.

The Secretary: What did the Moroccan Prime Minister say was the reason that they feel they have go to ahead?

De Prado: They didn’t really say. They just said that they feel very strongly that they must do this. When Solis went to see the King, we thought they might accept some limit on the territory but that does not seem to have happened.

The Secretary: Let us talk about some of the other issues you raised. Whether the President can go to the Te Deum will depend on timing and I will have to check with him on that. If the service could be the day after his meetings in Europe then he certainly could stop. What time of the day is it likely to be?

De Prado: Around noon.

The Secretary: That would mean an extra day in Europe but it might work. What time are you leaving today?

De Prado: 3:00 p.m. from Washington and 7:00 p.m. from Kennedy. You know it is quite incredible about Franco. He had a serious operation last night and today his pulse is normal and the bleeding seems to have stopped. But of course he is still in a coma.

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The Secretary: Why don’t they let him die?

De Prado: (shrugs)

The Secretary: (Secretary tries to get the President. Talks to General Scowcroft and asks to try out on the President a stop in Madrid on the way back from the Economic Summit.) On the political situation—you asked me what I thought about the referendum. That really depends on your assumption of how it might come out. My own inclination is that if a referendum is held quickly—say within a month—the Prince could probably win. That would have the advantage that the King would receive formal legitimacy to the fact that he would have been appointed by Franco. If you do it well, it can also have the advantage of making it look like the beginning of a democratic process. But you must be sure that you don’t create the expectation that referendum would be held periodically. On the domestic situation, I must tell you quite frankly that you would find my views quite different from those of Western Europeans. You are going to find that they will want to push the Prince toward full democracy and probably as far left as he will go. I personally believe that that would be a disaster. I can tell you quite frankly that my impression about the Prince before I talked to you was that he might want to move too far too fast toward the left.

De Prado: I can confirm that that is not the case.

The Secretary: But you do have the problem that the Prince has to make some movement and this must be visible so that the people can see that the political process has been strengthened. I will control our Embassy and I can assure you that they will act under my instructions. I will set up a special channel for the Prince to use through General Scowcroft so that you can communicate with me if you think things are not going along properly. We will not tolerate any political science experiments. But I do want to assure you that I have every reason to believe you can have confidence of the actions of our Ambassador. I sent him to Spain because he did a good job for me here in the Department.

De Prado: We are just a little worried because of some of the people who are being seen by the Embassy.

The Secretary: I can see the advantages of our keeping in touch with many groups but I want to assure you that we will work to support the Prince. Now as far as the Prince is concerned—what he will need is support of the Army and he will have to be sure that the Army has not been infiltrated by the Left. Quite frankly, when I visit Madrid and I look around at your military officers, they look a little old to me. But that is something for the Prince to look at. Now what kind of political groups are acceptable?

De Prado: The Prince believes that he can accept certain groups over toward the center but he is worried about the intellectuals and the [Typeset Page 672] leftists. He feels that he can accept up to border line of groups around Fraga and Areilza (Count de Motrico).

The Secretary: The main problem for the Prince is to get reliable power bases. What he should do is try to become like De Gaulle. That is a transnational figure who is above parties.

De Prado: I am sure he will have the complete support of the Army but this is where Morocco becomes very important.

The Secretary: Have you made that clear to the Moroccans?

De Prado: Yes, but apparently King Hassan has his own domestic problems.

The Secretary: But he can’t possibly be interested in Spain being taken over by the Soviets or Communists.

De Prado: But the trouble with the Moroccans is that they can’t see the forest for the trees. All the King can think about is “his victory.”

The Secretary: Now on the Portuguese. . . (Calls Brent Scowcroft and asks him to get in touch with [name not declassified] to go to Madrid at the end of this week.) I will have [name not declassified] get in touch with you and then you can arrange meetings for him with this group that will be meeting in Madrid. (to Hartman) You get ahold of [name not declassified] and tell him what the background of this is.

On the Basques, I am afraid we will have to leave them to you. I don’t have a very good judgement on that.

De Prado: I am part Basque and my wife is wholly Basque and I can tell you that it is a difficult but not an insoluable problem.

The Secretary: Do they look different?

De Prado: No, some of them have blonde hair and blue eyes and perhaps look a little more like Northern Europeans.

The Secretary: How far does it go back?

De Prado: It is a very old language which some people may think comes from Tibet.

Hartman: It is one of the basic Indo-European languages and has links to Finnish and Hungarian.

The Secretary: What about Korean?

De Prado: There are even some words in Japanese that are the same.

Hartman: Could we clarify what the Algerian Ambassador told you yesterday?

De Prado: [2 lines not declassified]

Hartman: [2 lines not declassified]

De Prado: [3½ lines not declassified]

The Secretary: No, do we have a report on this?

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Hartman: No.

The Secretary: When [name not declassified] gets to Madrid he will examine the situation on the Portuguese and report to me. He will also tell you how to communicate through Scowcroft. Let me say that I think Stabler will be all right. I will get him back here and give him his instructions. For the Prince, the trick is going to be how to show some progress and movement but not to undermine the whole situation. He has to show that he is a strong man. If he agrees to make concessions, people will not have confidence in him.

(Hartman later called De Prado to tell him of the President’s agreement to stop in Madrid on Tuesday, November 18 for the Te Deum if it could be arranged on that date. Hartman later gave him a hand-written note from the Secretary to the Prince.)

  1. Summary: Kissinger and De Prado discussed Spain during the transition.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 20, Classified External Memcons. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s Office. [text not declassified]