The Ambassador in Italy ( Phillips ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 13—8:45 a.m.]
476. In a conversation with Count Ciano yesterday he said that he wished to assure me that there were no secret undertaking[s] whatsoever connected with the Tripartite Anti-Communist Pact and that it was nothing more than a three-cornered recognition of attitude of the three Governments in their opposition to the spread of communism.
He also told me that while he had received a number of sympathetic messages with respect to the pact from other governments which he did not name he did not believe there were any other governments now prepared to join it.
With reference to the press reports concerning possible resumption of Anglo-Italian negotiations Ciano told me in strict confidence that the British Ambassador had called upon him to urge him to go to Brussels for the purpose of meeting Eden. He explained that he had declined for two reasons: first, because the conference was a failure and he did not wish to be regarded as having contributed to the failure; and secondly, he did not see that it would be useful to talk to Eden at this time without adequate preliminary preparation. He said, however, that he was prepared to meet the British Foreign Secretary at any time after the ground for the meeting had been duly prepared. I gained the impression, however, that Ciano would prefer that such meeting mark the successful conclusion of negotiations rather than entail his negotiating with Eden directly.
Ciano admitted quite frankly that there was mutual distrust between Italy and Great Britain and that this was the material cause of divergence between the two countries. He said that whereas the British [Page 616] had apparently reached the conclusion that Italian armaments were intended primarily for the purpose of striking at England the Italians on their part were equally distrustful of British intentions and were convinced that British armaments were to be used against them. Ciano added that in addition to mutual distrust there was of course the question of the recognition of the Empire before the Italians and the British could make much progress. A number of matters between them remained to be adjusted and as they were chiefly colonial matters, recognition of the Italian colonies was a necessary preliminary. In stating that he was ready at any time to open conversations with England in an effort to eliminate the difficulties upon this subject he seemed to be sincerely hopeful that some step in this respect might shortly be made from London. It was evident however that he did not contemplate taking the initiative.