Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Fletcher) of a Conversation with Senator Albertini, of the Italian Delegation

Naval Armament

Senator Albertini called this morning and stated that Italy was concerned on the question of Naval Armament; that they were ready to reduce their Naval Armament to zero, if France would do the [Page 66] same; that under the American proposals he feared that after the ten year period, France would be in a stronger position than themselves and that it would be impossible for the Italian Delegation to return to Italy without having arranged for a parity with France in naval strength, both present and future. He seemed quite sure that Italy would accept the principle of “stop now”.


He stated also that Italy was very anxious to be included in the Consortium60 and asked whether this matter could be brought before the Conference. I suggested that the matter be dealt with informally with the representatives of all Powers concerned and that I anticipated that there would be no difficulty on the part of anyone and that I could easily see where it would be an advantage for both Italy and the United States, if we have the benefit of Italy’s support on the principle of the open door in China in a practical way.

Petroleum and Cables

He asked if the petroleum question would come up in view of the fact that mandates were mentioned in the agenda. I told him that I did not believe so, except as the principle underlying all mandates would be involved in the settlement of the Yap mandate.61 I took occasion to refer in this connection to the tripartite agreement and the feeling that the United States should not be discriminated against in mandated or other former enemy territories, and referred specifically to the Italian and French spheres of influence in Asia Minor where we were interested upon the principle of the open door and equality of commercial opportunity. He agreed that this was but fair. He also asked whether the question of cables would be brought up and I told him that I thought that cable matters in the Pacific would probably figure in the discussions and that an agreement had practically been reached with reference to allocation of ex-German cables in the Pacific and that we anticipated little difficulty on that subject. He then referred to the distribution of the ex-German cables in the Atlantic and direct cable communication with Italy, and I told him that I hoped that opportunity would be afforded to discuss these matters informally outside the Conference and perhaps advance them towards a solution.

  1. For the Italian Embassy’s memorandum of Nov. 22, 1921, on this subject, and the Department’s reply of Nov. 30, 1921, see Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. i, pp. 371372.
  2. For papers relating to this subject, see ibid., vol ii, pp. 263 ff.