The Ambassador in Italy ( Phillips ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 20—9:14 a.m.]
20. I am informed by the British Ambassador in strictest confidence that he was summoned on Saturday by Ciano18 and informed that the Italian Government was holding 60 battalions of troops in readiness to send to Spain if France should take any steps to intervene on behalf of Negrin Government. The Ambassador immediately communicated this information to his Government which forwarded it without comment to Paris before the recent meeting of the Council of Ministers. In addition to the anti-French press campaign reported in my 19, January 17, 7 p.m.,19 this was obviously intended by the Italians to bring further pressure on the French.
According to the best information available in Rome the decision of the French Council not to intervene has apparently eliminated any [Page 726] immediate danger since it does not appear that the Italians will take action to support Franco unless other powers intervene on the other side.