Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation With the French Ambassador (Laboulaye)

During the Ambassador’s call I referred to the substance of the recent reply of this Government to the Emperor of Ethiopia about the Paris Pact, emphasizing the statement in our note that this country was naturally interested in peace in every part of the world. I then asked the Ambassador what he knew about the situation and about the state of mind of his Government towards the Italian-Ethiopian problem which seemed to be growing more acute.

The Ambassador said he had no information on the subject.

I then went on to say that I felt the matter was of such extreme importance that I was justified in making inquiries about the state of mind of a great Government like the French, not only because we were both signatories of the Paris Peace Pact, but on account of the extremely war-like utterances of Mr. Mussolini during the past few days coupled with additional shipments of soldiers and armaments from Italy to Ethiopia; that a war between Italy and Ethiopia would be bad enough, but it was entirely within the range of possibility that it would in due time spread back into more than one part of Europe with its unimaginable, devastating effects. I said that in the light of these possibilities and as an equal friend of the people of all the Governments concerned, I would be interested in the most confidential way to have the benefit of any information or ideas that governing officials at Paris might have in mind, either present or prospective, relative to any material phase of the problem which seemingly was gradually presenting itself in the Italian-Ethiopian situation.

The Ambassador indicated his appreciation of this viewpoint and the seriousness of it and added that he would be glad to see what his Government had on its mind, presently or prospectively, if anything, in the foregoing connection.

cordell hull