The Laurel incident occurred when the United States intercepted a letter of congratulation from Spain's foreign ministry to Filipino Puppet President José Laurel on 18 October 1943.
While the Spanish regime intended the message as a polite response to a message of friendship sent by Laurel, the United States read the message as Spanish recognition of the new government. The Axis forces also disseminated the message as a sign of support from Spain.
While Spain was close to the Axis powers, diplomatic and trade relations with the United States had remained. Spain was dependent on imports of oil and grain, and many in the US had long pushed for a stronger stand against the francoist regime in Spain. The Laurel telegram became an important cause in both the press and Congress.
Spain was a major producer of tungsten, a crucial material to Germany's war effort. The United States had launched a program at great expense to buy the entirety of Spain's tungsten production, but some still went to the Germans. The United States used the incident to put pressure on Spain to stop all exports of tungsten.
The Allies also wanted Spain to expel German agents from Tangier, the return of Italian ships following the Italian armistice, and landing rights in Spain for Allied commercial planes.