The Ambassador in Italy (Phillips) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 17—9:30 a.m.]
18. In a recent conversation with the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador in Rome,6 he referred to the subject of the reported new triple alliance between Italy, Germany and Japan which had been mentioned by the American press, but stated that the agreement had not been concluded, giving the impression that Japan was hesitating to commit itself finally in this respect.
I took occasion to mention this to Ciano7 yesterday making it clear that I was doing so entirely on my own initiative. He replied that the relations of the three powers were growing closer every day but that it would be premature to speak of an alliance. He said that there were no signed agreements in existence between the three countries except the Anti-Comintern Pact and insisted that no such alliance was contemplated in the immediate future. He added, however, rather significantly that the relations among the three countries were of such an intimate nature that any alliance could come into effect very quickly if and whenever it might be needed. I got the impression that the groundwork had already been laid for an agreement but that it was not considered expedient at the present time to put it into effect.
As stated by Ciano relations of the three countries are such that it is apparently not considered necessary to conclude any such agreement for the present since their continued close cooperation would not seem to require such formal acknowledgment. If however an agreement should be concluded it would appear primarily of significance in indicating that in the judgment of the three States the position of other powers in their regard was such as to require a formal proclamation of their community of interests and military cooperation.