740.00119 P. W./7–1645

No. 722
The British Embassy to the Department of State


On July 15th the Foreign Office received the following message from the United States Embassy:—

“The State Department was recently told by the Italian Ambassador at Washington1 that Italy had decided to declare war on Japan and that her declaration would be published on July 15th. The State Department would accordingly announce on July 17th (Tuesday) the intention of the United States Government to support officially Italy’s admission in due course to the World Security Organization. The United States Embassy was instructed to inform the Foreign Office and to express the hope that His Majesty’s Government would feel able to support the United States decision”.

After considering the matter, the Foreign Office that afternoon made the following oral communication to a member of the United States Embassy.
The State Department’s communication had created a somewhat unfortunate impression both as regards method of procedure and substance.
As regards method of procedure, Italy’s intention to declare war on Japan had been known for several weeks. There was therefore no reason why the State Department should present His Majesty’s Government with this statement of their intentions at such short notice and on a more or less take it or leave it basis, to expect [basis. To expect] His Majesty’s Government to give a snap decision on an important question of principle at a time when the Prime Minister and Secretary of State2 were known to be out of the country was bad enough. It was even worse when a matter concerning Italy was at stake. His Majesty’s Government had always been at pains to try to co-operate most closely with the United States Government on all [Page 622] questions of principle concerning Italy, and they thought that in view of all Great Britain had had to put up with from Italy during the war, they were entitled to more consideration from the United States authorities.
As regards the substance of the State Department’s proposals it seemed in the first place that they were attaching altogether too much importance to Italy’s declaration of war on Japan. In the second place, the question of Italy’s admission to the World Security Organisation was closely connected with the question of making a peace treaty with Italy. His Majesty’s Government had consistently maintained in their discussions with the United States Government that it would be a mistake to make a preliminary peace treaty, merely giving Italy all the jam and none of the powder. They were still of this opinion and were convinced that it would be most unfortunate to make any definite concessions or promises to Italy about her future status until it was possible to agree among the Allied Governments on the complete peace treaty. His Majesty’s Government therefore saw serious objections to giving Italy a formal undertaking here and now that her candidature for admission to the World Security Organisation would be supported by the Allied Governments.3

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

His Majesty’s Government hoped, therefore, that the State Department would agree to take no further action in the matter until the question had been discussed at Terminal and until it had been decided whether any statement would be issued there on the subject of the conclusion of the peace treaty.

The Foreign Office would inform the United Kingdom Delegation at Terminal of the position and hoped that the United States Delegation might be similarly informed by the State Department.

  1. Alberto Tarchiani.
  2. Winston S. Churchill and Anthony Eden, respectively.
  3. For the text of paragraph 6, see document No. 1088.