740.0011 European War, 1939/53: Telegram

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

362. My telegram No. 355, September 1, 11 a.m. The British Ambassador22 yesterday delivered his Government’s reply to Ciano’s proposal for a conference which was to the effect that his suggestion was much appreciated by the British Government but that in view of [Page 411] Germany’s action against Poland there seems to be nothing to be gained by holding such a conference.

I learn that on Thursday evening Ciano told Loraine in great earnestness that Italy did not want to go to war with Great Britain and France. He made a similar declaration although in less emphatic terms to the French Ambassador yesterday afternoon.

It is my personal conviction that the Italian Government will try very hard to keep out of war as long as possible, even in the event of British and French intervention against Germany and it seems not unlikely that Mussolini is looking to France and Great Britain to help him find a way out.

The British Embassy here seems very hopeful that Italy will remain neutral.

Repeated to Paris, London.

  1. Sir Percy Loraine.