The Secretary of State to the President 1
Memorandum for the President
Subject: Proposals of British Chiefs of Staff for Disposition of Italian Overseas Territories
I refer to your memorandum of April 282 in regard to certain proposals of the British Chiefs of Staff for the future disposition of Italian overseas territories.3
In accordance with your request, I am enclosing a memorandum on the subject which embodies the comments and recommendations of the experts in the Department charged with these matters. While the conclusions drawn are in no sense final, they represent long and careful study.
I may add that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed the view that from the limited viewpoint of our national security, there are no direct objections to the British proposals for the disposition of Italian overseas territories since United States postwar military interests are not directly affected.4 From the broader view of national and world-wide [Page 409] security, however, the Chiefs of Staff have expressed the opinion that the United States should not support any such British proposals prior to ascertaining Russian views.
In my memorandum of May 65 I mentioned that according to our information the proposals in question had not been considered by the British War Cabinet and in no way represented the policy of the British Government. I have, therefore, not discussed the subject with the British nor has any indication been given that we are aware of these particular proposals of the British Chiefs of Staff.
- Sent by pouch to Quebec, where Roosevelt made the paper available to Churchill and approved the making of a copy for the British authorities. See post, p. 418, including fn. 2. The Department of State record copy of this memorandum is on file 865.014/4-2844.↩
- Not printed (865.014/4-2844).↩
These proposals, as summarized by Hull in a memorandum to Roosevelt dated April 26, 1944, on the basis of information received from the United States Mission at Algiers, were as follows:
- “1. Eritrea would be dismembered with the western highlands going to the Sudan and the highlands and Danakil coastal plain to Ethiopia. It is assumed that the United Nations would not request a base at Massawa. A greater new Somaliland would be created including Italian Somaliland, the northern frontier district of Kenya and British and Ethiopian Ogaden Somaliland, the whole preferably under British trusteeship.
- “2. Cyrenaica would be an autonomous principality under Egyptian suzerainty with adequate safeguards for United Nations military requirements, including facilities for air and naval bases in the Benghazi area. The offer of suzerainty to Egypt is considered a useful bargaining counter.
- “3. Tripolitania would be restored to Italy subject to guarantees of demilitarization and retention by the British of the right to use Gastel Benito Airfield as a staging point.
- “4. There would be frontier readjustments with the French except in the Fezzan area.
- “5. The Oweinat and Sarra triangle would be returned to the Sudan.
- “6. Castelrosso would go to Turkey and the remainder of the Dodecanese to Greece, subject to the right of Great Britain to use bases in Crete and other facilities for bases in the islands, particularly Rhodes. Such facilities might be provided under some United Nations scheme.
- “7. Pantelleria and the Pelagians would be under effective British control either directly or through some general security scheme.” (865.014/210)
- See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 107, fn. 4.↩
- Not printed (865.014/212b).↩
- Eden had made a statement to this effect in the House of Commons on January 8, 1942. See Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons Official Report, 5th series, vol. 377, col. 78.↩