765.84/339: Telegram

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

279. My telegram No. 277, May 25, 8 p.m.19 In the course of a conversation with Suvich yesterday he touched upon Abyssinia and said that the situation in Europe was so uncertain that Italy felt it must do something to liquidate the difficulties with which it was confronted in Abyssinia. Suvich felt that the League of Nations had been quite fair in its decisions last week with regard to Abyssinia [Page 606] and that there was a possibility of coming to some understanding in the future. He said that Italy would be pleased if she could connect her two East African colonies and would also be pleased if the League of Nations should see fit to offer to Italy a mandate over Abyssinia and that this would be the best thing for Abyssinia which could then develop under the guidance of Italy. He thought that for this as well as for the measures which Italy was taking in Abyssinia there were many precedents. He said that Italy could not afford to withdraw her troops but that on the contrary it would be necessary to send more. Abyssinia, he said, had been arming and had been supplied with Belgian and Swedish instructors. Although the Abyssinian army was not very well drilled nor perfectly equipped he said that it was sufficiently equipped so that Italy could not afford to leave a small number of soldiers to defend its colonies against constant Abyssinian threats. In reply to my question as to whether it would be possible for Italy to direct the affairs of Abyssinia without the possession of Addis Ababa, he admitted that from a strategic point of view it would be necessary to have Addis Ababa under Italian control under a mandate or otherwise.

I asked Suvich if it were possible that England in return for Italy’s renunciation of her Abyssinian ambitions might be willing to make territorial concessions to Italy. He replied that the matter had not been discussed but I drew the definite inference from the manner of his reply that although there may have been no official discussion the matter had been broached.

Italy’s irritation with England’s intervention in the Abyssinian matter is being reflected in a series of anti-British newspaper articles.

  1. Not printed.