The Chargé in France (Marriner) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 19—1 p.m.63]
708. Department’s 332, August 18, 1 p.m.64 I saw Léger and Eden this morning and communicated orally and in the strictest confidence the nature of the message which Kirk has been instructed to deliver to Mussolini. I informed them that it was not being given to the [Page 743] press and they both agreed that in the present position of affairs this was the wisest means of bringing to Mussolini’s attention the solidarity of the world in the interest of peace.
Both Léger and Eden expressed themselves as being extremely grateful for the prompt and effective action of the American Government in this matter and felt that even though the negotiations in Paris had broken down it was not too late for its effects to be felt in Italy.
It was Léger’s opinion that with the return of Aloisi to Rome, Mussolini would gain a more accurate impression of the solidarity against him which existed here and what he would have to face in Geneva, where, in accordance with the information which the French have received from Rome, Mussolini still intends to send his representatives on September 4.
Neither Léger nor Eden felt that the failure of conversations here was necessarily the final chapter and that there was still time for Rome to alter its program.
Apparently Mussolini refused even to consider the Anglo-French offer as a basis of discussion. Eden’s analysis of the Italian reply was that Mussolini would only be willing to accept through the medium of the League what he would take by force of arms if it were not granted.
Eden said that in his conversation with Laval this morning they both considered that in searching their consciences no efforts had been spared and no means neglected to find a peaceful settlement of the question. In this connection Léger told me that the only benefit that he felt had been derived from the negotiation was a much closer rapprochement and understanding between Great Britain and France. Eden leaves late this afternoon for London and Vansittart for Aix-les-Bains where he will see Baldwin.65 It is possible that a Cabinet meeting will be called in London for August 22.