The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy ( Garrett )1

No. 295

Sir: The Italian Ambassador called on December 11 and first thanked me for my statement on the eighth denying the story in the press that France and this country were going to combine to refuse loans to Italy as a means of forcing Italy to disarm. He said that that denial had now been published widely by the press and was perfectly satisfactory.

He then said that he had now received all the despatches in regard to the negotiations at Geneva2 in which Gibson, Craigie, Rosso and Massigli had participated, and asked me what was going to be the next step. I told him we were waiting now for a French Government to be formed, and that I hoped the interval would be used by everybody to gather momentum for the next step in these negotiations. I told him that I bad heard from Gibson that Rosso, Massigli and Craigie had all been hopeful of the last proposition which had seemed to them to offer a basis for further negotiations, and had therefore regretted greatly the interruption caused by the fall of the French Government. The Ambassador said, yes, he agreed with me; that [Page 314] the last proposal had seemed to offer a basis for further negotiations. He asked me where the next negotiations should take place. I said that was immaterial to us and I should authorize Mr. Gibson to go wherever it would be most convenient for the other parties in case they desire Mr. Gibson’s presence, only I hoped there would be no delay in deciding upon some place and proceeding with the negotiations.

He said that the press and some speech in the Senate bad suggested that some nation, perhaps Great Britain, was seeking to open the debt settlements. I said that I was not paying any attention to what was said on this subject from those sources and that no such suggestion had come to me. He, the Ambassador, went on to say that this was probably an inauspicious moment for opening debt settlements, in view of the depression and the consequent inadvisability of asking the American taxpayer to pay any higher taxes. I replied that I did not know whether Great Britain had made any suggestion, but I could say in all frankness that if anybody took the initiative in opening those debt settlements it could hardly be Italy who was regarded by American taxpayers as the one who had received the most generous bargain. He laughed and said he agreed with me.

Similar instructions are being sent to the Embassies at London, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin.

Very truly yours,

H. L. Stimson
  1. The same to the Ambassadors in Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain, and to the Chargé in France.
  2. For negotiations regarding French and Italian naval construction, see vol. i, pp. 132 ff.