711.652/124: Telegram

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

487. Department’s No. 178, November 23, 6 p.m.36 The Foreign Office has promised to furnish me today with the details concerning preferences upon which the Department has been insisting. This completes the entire information which has been requested of the Italian Government.

[Page 466]

While I appreciate there may be other elements in the situation tending to cause delay in the conclusion of the new treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation I cannot too strongly urge the importance of making every effort to expedite these negotiations. It should not be forgotten that they were initiated at my insistence and that the Italian Government agreed to the denunciation of the old treaty with great reluctance and only because in their opinion it paved the way to a definite improvement in Italo-American commercial relations. Should we now at this last minute raise new objections and obstacles, it would not only be very embarrassing for me personally and in my relations with the Foreign Office but would convince the Italian Government that for reasons other than commercial the United States does not wish to proceed to the completion of a treaty with Italy at this time.

The delays which have hitherto occurred in the negotiations have already given the Italians the impression that the United States is reluctant to conclude the treaty and to proceed to trade agreement discussions. Should further difficulties now be raised the impression will be strengthened that in our efforts to expand world trade we are interested only in improving our relations with Great Britain and other so-called democratic countries thus lending encouragement to the view that the United States has aligned itself with one group of powers as opposed to another group with contrasting political ideas and injecting a political element into a situation which ought to be predominantly commercial in character.

Sayre’s letter will not arrive in Borne before December 6th at the earliest which leaves only 9 days before the old treaty expires. If it is not considered possible to conclude the treaty by that date would it not be advisable to inform the Italian authorities now of the obstacles to which Sayre refers in order that discussions may immediately be begun for the purpose of concluding some such provisional arrangement as was suggested by the Department to the Italian Ambassador.

  1. Not printed.