800.6363/12–2244: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy ( Kirk )

108. While it is appreciated that the recent Italian cabinet changes postponed action on the legalization of CIP,33 the Department is anxious that enactment of the draft decree forwarded with your despatch no. 611 of December 534 should not be unduly delayed. The Department would like you, at the earliest appropriate opportunity, to take up informally with Allied Commission the desirability of pressing the Italian Government to take action soon.

There may be some possibility that the legalization of CIP, following the urging of the Allied Commission and the American and British Governments, might later be construed as giving some legality to, or the appearance of approval by the American and British Governments of, the measures taken before the war with respect to American and British petroleum investments and operations in Italy.

The Department, therefore, would like to have you present a note to the Italian Government in order that the position of the American Government may be placed clearly upon the record. For this note the Department has adapted the text suggested in your 1021 of December 22.35 It is believed that the British Government will send a similar instruction and note to the British Ambassador. The contents of the note should be substantially as follows:

“The injuries done in petroleum operations in Italy to nationals of the United States and the United Kingdom constitute a general problem which will ultimately have to be dealt with. It will be [Page 1305] recognized by your government that through the agencies of AGIP36 and ANIC,37 petroleum enterprises controlled by Allied nationals were subjected to particularly insidious treatment. As the ultimate settlement of this problem may require a considerable period, it is the desire of the United States Government that in the meantime the conduct of petroleum affairs in Italy should be such that the interests of American nationals will not be further prejudiced.

Your Government must recognize that American petroleum interests in Italy have suffered grave damages, and that at the proper time some satisfactory recompense must be made. Meanwhile, no actions which might tend to complicate further the position of American nationals in the petroleum industry in Italy should be taken or be permitted by the Italian Government. In particular the petroleum properties and rights formerly belonging to American nationals which were confiscated by the Italian Government should not be disposed of to private concerns or individuals.

The points set forth above have little to do with petroleum operations currently conducted in Italy but in anticipation of the proper time for their consideration it is believed appropriate to raise them now in order to facilitate the return at the earliest possible moment of the properties to the companies from which they were confiscated, including the rights and other intangible assets of the companies and the competitive opportunities which they enjoyed. This statement is made without prejudice to the claims of American nationals to just compensation for damage and injury suffered, whether sustained before or after the promulgation of the decree.”38

Please inform Department by cable when action has been taken, sending final text of note by despatch.

Stettinius
  1. Comitato Italiano di Petroli.
  2. Not printed; the draft decree pertained to legalization of C.I.P.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli.
  5. Azienda Nazionale Idrogenazione Combustibile.
  6. A marginal note on the file copy states that this message had been approved by Mr. A. G. Antoni, Vice President of the Allied Commission, then present in Washington, and by Mr. W. D. Crampton, Petroleum Administrator for War.