500.A15A5/829: Telegram

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

392. In the course of an informal after-dinner conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday I said that as one of the three American delegates to the London Naval Conference I was much interested in this subject and had always hoped that the Italian [Page 108] Government could see its way to signing the treaty. I mentioned the vivid interest of the American people in any step taken towards the limitation of armament and said that Italy’s signature to this treaty would make a splendid impression throughout the United States. The Minister explained that in view of the present European situation and notably the recent developments at Geneva the Italian Government was not in a position to sign the treaty. Italy could not in view of the seating of the Ethiopian delegation make any gesture at this time towards the European collaboration required by the treaty. He mentioned other reasons which made Italian collaboration difficult such as the eastern European tour of King Edward and the assembling of more British ships in the Mediterranean. I said that it seemed to me a pity that such a far-reaching movement as that which inspired the treaty should be crippled by something which had happened in Geneva affecting Italy only at the present session of the Assembly. Count Ciano replied that it remained to be seen whether the seating of the Ethiopian delegation was confined to this session of the Assembly. I asked him whether that meant that Italy could not consider the signing of the treaty until the next session of the Assembly to which he did not answer.

I understand that Ciano recently informed a chief of mission here that the events in Geneva had not altered the Italian attitude towards the proposed meeting of the Locarno powers9 and that the Italian Government was ready to collaborate in preliminary preparation for the conference in conformity with its previous declaration on the matter, see Embassy’s 381, September 21, 5 p.m., 376, September 16, 7 p.m.,10 and previous.

  1. Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom, signatories of the treaty of Locarno, October 16, 1925. For comment on the proposed discussions in October 1936 among these powers, in connection with matters affecting the status of the treaty subsequent to the occupation of the Rhineland, March 7, 1936, by Germany, see pp. 180 ff.
  2. Neither printed.