765.84/382: Telegram

The Chargé in Italy ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

299. During a visit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today an official connected with the Bureau dealing with Abyssinian affairs said that he had been instructed by the Under Secretary to convey to me the following observations. He said that he need not emphasize the fact that the Italian Government regarded the situation in Abyssinia as very grave and one that affected not only Italy but the civilized world in general. The Abyssinians, he continued, were exerting every [Page 787] effort to expedite their war preparations and to that end had placed large orders for the purchase of war materials abroad and that among these purchases were supplies of Ford and Chevrolet trucks ordered in the United States which were destined for military use in Ethiopia. These purchases abroad the official said not only increased the danger of an outbreak by augmenting the supplies of war materials in the hands of the Ethiopians but also rendered more difficult the attempt to negotiate an amicable settlement of the Italo-Abyssinian controversy in that the Government at Addis Ababa regarded all such assistance from abroad as an expression of sympathy in their cause. He stated that this matter had been discussed by Ambassador Rosso at the Department of State and that the Italian Government was fully aware of the practical difficulties in the way of any action on the part of the American Government in exercising any control over the purchases in the United States which he had described. He added, however, that assurances “had been received from practically all European manufacturers of war materials that regard would be paid to what was considered the special situation in Abyssinia and he hoped that some means might be found to discourage American manufacturers from filling orders on behalf of Abyssinian Government for materials adapted to war purposes which incidentally he believed would never be paid for.

At the conclusion of this statement I told the official that I did not doubt that the entire matter had been fully explained and placed in its proper aspect in the course of Ambassador Rosso’s conversation at the State Department and that I would make a record of the foregoing observations in the Embassy here.

In connection with the foregoing see Department’s instruction 451, May 9.3

  1. Not printed.