765.84/4591: Telegram

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

299. My 292, June 2, 5 p.m. The French Ambassador returned to London the middle of this week and after conversations with Eden returned to Paris yesterday. The Foreign Secretary discussed with him questions of procedure for the League Assembly meeting at the end of this month and added that the Argentine Ambassador had informed him that his Government had formally requested this convocation of the Assembly since it was essential that the Latin-American countries members of the League should have their legal obligations to the League, and especially the matter of sanctions, clearly defined before the forthcoming Buenos Aires Conference.

I am informed the Foreign Secretary gave no indication to the French Ambassador that there was as yet unanimity of opinion in the Cabinet on the Anglo-Italian issues but explained that in the present situation it was difficult to maintain a position on purely moral grounds, and likewise equally difficult before large sections of British public opinion to appear to compromise on principles. Accordingly at League discussions on sanctions England would presumably have no proposals to initiate, but if other nations moved for the abolition of sanctions and such a policy was endorsed by the French Government, England’s attitude would not be obstructive. My French colleague pointed out to me that this statement of Eden was of the utmost importance to Blum who has been anticipating a lead from the British Government, which he would be prepared to follow. Accordingly the French Ambassador was now in Paris consulting the new Minister for Foreign Affairs.

On Wednesday Eden had a further interview with the Italian Ambassador (see my 280 [288] of May 29, 1 p.m.) and the latter was full of pleasant things to say regarding his Government’s foreign policy and Mussolini’s desire to reconstruct the Stresa front. I understand the Foreign Secretary ascertained that the Italian Ambassador already had some knowledge of the British Government’s present outlook in regard to sanctions as outlined above. Eden then went on to remind the Italian Ambassador of the difficulties of the situation in dealings with Italy until that country had made some gesture or overture towards meeting the position of the League of Nations in the matter.

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With the above indications of the trend of British policy in Italian League matters the formal announcement today of Sir Samuel Hoare’s appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty follows naturally (see my 269 of May 19, 8 p.m.65).

Yesterday Eden paid a short visit to the Ethiopian Emperor at the latter’s temporary residence. I understand the conversation was very general except that Eden cautioned the Emperor as to preserving his incognito while he remained in England. Today the Ethiopian Minister is giving a reception to meet “The Emperor of Ethiopia”. It is understood that so far only the Chiefs of Mission of certain eastern countries have accepted, China, Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan. The invitation addressed to the American Ambassador was returned with a note explaining the Ambassador’s absence in America and since no subsequent invitation has been issued to me as Chargé d’Affaires I shall not attend.

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