765.75/421: Telegram

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

119. My telegram No. 115, April 5, 5 p.m. The British Ambassador told me this morning that in his conversation with Ciano on [Page 376] April 4 the latter had explained that while the Italian Government was preparing a reply to King Zog’s request to strengthen the Italo-Albanian alliance a further communication was received on March 20 from the King asking that Italian troops be sent for his use. When the Italian Government ascertained from other sources that Zog wished to obtain by force from Yugoslavia a small slice of Yugoslav territory where there were a considerable number of Albanian residents, it refused to consider his request. Thereupon Zog adopted an intensely anti-Italian policy which had become so serious that Italian interests were being menaced. The Italian Government had hoped to reach a new understanding through negotiations.

When Perth on his own initiative informed Ciano that any change in the territorial status of Albania would involve the Mediterranean status quo guaranteed by the Anglo-Italian accord of 1938 the latter assured him that the sovereignty of Albania would be respected and that the protection of Italian interests alone was involved.

A similar assurance was given by the Italian Chargé d’Affaires in London yesterday afternoon.

Perth has been instructed to call upon Ciano today to point out these assurances and to invite his attention to the provisions of the Anglo-Italian agreement. Perth has promised to inform me of the results of his conversation.

Official communiqués issued this morning announce that Italian troops have landed at Valona, Durazzo, Santi Quaranta and San Giovanni di Medua, that the only resistance which was met has been overcome at Durazzo, that the troops are marching to the interior where they are being quietly and cordially received by the population and that 400 Italian planes are flying over the country with orders not to bomb inhabited centers and to spare the civilian population. Manifestos are being distributed calling upon the Albanian people not to oppose vain resistance nor to listen to the men of their Government who are encouraging useless bloodshed and announcing that the Italian troops are coming and will remain for the time necessary to reestablish order, justice and peace.

Phillips