740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Locarno)/867: Telegram

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

107. My 106, March 13, 11 a.m.74 I understand from the British Embassy that the Italian reply on Locarno is in general a recapitulation and extension of the observations containing in the Italian reply of last October, see my 422, October 21, noon,75 and maintains the view that the old treaty of Locarno should be taken as a basis for discussion of a new pact in order that the former treaty may be adapted to the circumstances which have changed since its negotiation [Page 61] without altering its general outline and essential characteristics. I am informed that the following are certain of the observations set forth in the note.

The Italians maintain that the new pact should constitute as precise, simple and well defined an instrument as the old Locarno treaty for the purpose of maintaining the status quo on the Belgian and Franco-German frontiers and of determining the obligations of non-aggression and of guarantees. The Italian Government expresses doubt as to the possibility of maintaining the fundamental unity of the treaty of Locarno if in a new treaty a system of separate reciprocal guarantees should be introduced. The Italian Government, however, is ready to take pledges of a particular character as regards the maintenance of the Rhine frontier, the inviolability of Belgium and the maintenance of peace between Germany and France. The Italian Government is ready jointly with England, France and Germany to maintain the integrity of Belgium without reciprocal guarantees from Belgium and is ready jointly with England to guarantee the maintenance of the territorial status quo on the Franco-German frontier and the inviolability of those frontiers without seeking any reciprocity.

In transmitting the reply I understand that the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed his doubt as to the advisability of inaugurating a conference at this time but appeared to be in favor of a continuation for the present of exchange of notes between the various governments on the subject of the new pact.

As no decision has been taken regarding the publication of the contents of the Italian note the foregoing should be regarded as strictly confidential.

Not repeated anywhere.