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The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

288. In order to break the Anglo-Italian stalemate by reviving interchanges between the diplomatic representatives of the two countries [Page 143]as well as to influence British public opinion a diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Telegraph was sent to Rome at the behest of important elements in the Conservative Party to obtain an interview with Mussolini. This interview which has been widely quoted here and I understand in the American press appeared yesterday.

Today the Daily Telegraph diplomatic correspondent gives his considered conclusions: (1) “that Signor Mussolini today desires peace; he is profoundly aware of the inevitable consequences of any other policy”; (2) that he speaks for all Italy in asserting Italy’s “undisputed sovereignty over Abyssinia” the exploitation of which will occupy Italian energy for decades; (3) that the sanctions which are not being effective should be withdrawn in which case Italy would participate in the work of any committee set up by the League of Nations to prepare a better security system but if they are not withdrawn Italy will leave the League and this step may “be accompanied by more selective arrangements to guarantee Italian security”.

It is noteworthy that Eden saw Grandi52 yesterday and the Foreign Office press bureau gave out that for the first time since the occupation of Addis Ababa some of the problems raised by the present relations of Italy to the other League powers were discussed and that Grandi expressed Mussolini’s desire for better understanding with Great Britain and reiterated the assurance that Italy had no designs against British interests. One of my colleagues understands from Grandi that he personally stressed that sanctions were not penalizing the immediate Italian economic and financial position but driving Italian public opinion and above all the Italian state into a situation similar to that of Germany.

Atherton
  1. Dino Grandi, Italian Ambassador in the United Kingdom.