740.0011 European War 1939/33032/5

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

I called the British Ambassador over the telephone. I first made it clear that I was referring to the British memorandum requesting the President to lay before Mussolini a request to preserve peace and at the same time to make known his demands for recognition in the Mediterranean, etc., etc., in order that the President might transmit the same to the British and French Governments. I stated to the Ambassador that the President, rather than act at the instance of the British and the French, preferred to pursue the next logical step in his previous correspondence with Mussolini on the same general subject, which he had conducted on his own initiative and without any request from any other government; that, accordingly, the President had communicated with Mussolini; that in doing so he had really taken action on the matters referred to in the British memorandum, as a part of his communication to Mussolini. I enjoined absolute secrecy on the part of the Ambassador and his government on the ground that [Page 712] it would be hurtful rather than helpful if the matter should be made public at this time. The Ambassador accordingly pledged secrecy.

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