124.842/130: Telegram

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

83. On July 6 two Italian officers and four carabinièri entered the Legation at Addis Ababa and announced they had verbal orders to close the Legation radio. The Minister Resident immediately sought an interview with Graziani and, after stating he could not permit soldiers or police in the Legation compound without his previous consent, urged the Marshal to withdraw his troops at once. Following lengthy discussion Graziani gave orders to withdraw troops and agreed to permit Legations, not as Legations but as individuals, provisionally to use radios, subject however to certain restrictions regarding hours, wave lengths, et cetera.

On July 8 Engert received written order from Graziani that, in view of situation which had developed since above interview, it was necessary to close Legation radio stations for a period of 15 days. Engert subsequently obtained authority to receive messages, but he is sending via commercial radio.

Please take this matter up at once with Foreign Office and urge that instructions be sent to military authorities in East Africa with a view to insuring the immunity of the American Legation in practice without discussion of its diplomatic status. Also urge desirability of permitting two-way communication by code between Legation radio station and Washington subject if necessary to reasonable restrictions regarding hours of use. If authorities decline to permit stations to function at this time you should endeavor to induce them to permit stations to reopen at end of 15-day period referred to above.

Report results of your representations.

The military situation at Addis Ababa is such that the Department deems open communication of the utmost importance and wishes you to use your best endeavors to effect a satisfactory solution.