881.00/1276: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Fletcher) to the Secretary of State


103. In a conversation which I had this afternoon with Mussolini, he told me that the Spanish Government had approached the Italian Government on the Tangier question and had first suggested that Tangier be included in the Spanish Zone, but later proposed a mandate be given them. He stated that his reply had been that Italy was disposed to give sympathetic and friendly consideration to the Spanish proposal should a study of the subject show that Italian interests were adequately safeguarded.

With reference to the Spanish invitation to a conference on the Tangier question to meet on September 1st at Geneva as referred to in Ambassador Hammond’s telegram of the 25th, Mussolini stated that his reply had been that Italy was prepared to accept the invitation provided the conference meet at Lausanne instead of Geneva [Page 734] as he wished it to be made clear that this question was entirely distinct from the ones scheduled to be discussed at the coming meeting of the League, particularly the matter of permanent seats on the Council.

I replied that I had received no intimation of the attitude which might be taken by the American Government either with regard to this question or to the approaching conference. However, I called to his attention the reservations made by the United States upon our signature and ratification of the Act of Algeciras and referred to our traditional policy of declining to become involved in political questions of solely European concern. However, I referred to our interest from the economic point of view in the preservation of the open door there.

It is my understanding that the Italian Government is directing its diplomatic representatives to make known its views at Washington, Paris, and London.

I assume that should a mandate be granted to Spain it would emanate from the powers that are signatories to the Act of Algeciras; also that it is Mussolini’s wish that this matter be separated completely from the League of Nations. Repeated to London, Paris, and Madrid.