123H875/190: Telegram

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

171. Your 506, December 3, 7 p.m. Please inform Count Ciano without delay that this Government regards the transfer of Hughes to [Page 339] Addis Ababa at this time as a purely routine administrative matter devoid of any political significance and that the American press will be so informed in case inquiry on the subject is made.

We cannot, therefore, approve any statement in the sense of that suggested by Count Ciano and I feel sure he will agree with you as to its inadvisability under the circumstances.

You should make it perfectly clear that this Government does not contemplate instructing Engert to depart immediately upon Hughes’ arrival and although it is our present intention to transfer him within a reasonable time thereafter, this Government desires this fact to be regarded as confidential for the time being.

You should also endeavor to dispel any impression that Count Ciano may have that Engert’s transfer, when it occurs, is to be regarded as having any political significance for such is emphatically not our intention.

For your confidential information: you should bear in mind that any disposition on the part of the Italian Government to capitalize the present routine transfers might be most embarrassing to the Secretary during the course of the Conference now in session at Buenos Aires.