365D.1163/13: Telegram

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

178. By unpublished decree dated November 27 Italian authorities requisitioned entire property of the Sudan Interior Mission including all buildings, residences of staff and mission headquarters at Akaki and Furi near Addis Ababa, together with entire contents except personal belongings of missionaries. Decree provided for a commission [Page 326] to make list of properties and in consultation with mission to estimate a fair value. Copy of decree was handed mission only on December 2. Italian authorities refused request of mission for postponement of action to permit consultation with mission headquarters and apparently Italian commission is to proceed with appraisal of properties without cooperation of missionaries.

Sudan Interior Mission appears to be partly American and partly Canadian and British. The Department is now endeavoring to ascertain the extent of the American interest. Meanwhile Engert has been instructed to avoid taking any position which will raise question as to status or recognition of Italian Government in Ethiopia and to confine his efforts to having American interests given ample opportunity to present evidence of value of property and to prevent any undue delay in payment of compensation.

Engert reports it would be helpful if postponement of requisition proceedings could be suggested at Rome. He has made a similar request of Graziani who probably referred question to Ministry of Colonies.

Unless you perceive some objection please take this matter up with appropriate authorities and, after pointing out the haste with which the requisition was made, request postponement of proceedings so that American interests involved may have sufficient opportunity to give consideration to a matter of importance to them.