740.0011 P.W./6–1345: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

5982. Deptel 3632, May 9, 3 p.m.; Embtel 5144, May 23, 7 p.m.7 Today we reed communication from FonOff giving British views on Italy’s request to declare war against Japan. Substance of communication follows:

“Emb’s letter May 11 informed HBM Govt8 that Italian Ambassador Washington had intimated that Italian Govt was anxious declare war on Japan. It was pointed out that while military value of such declaration of war might be negligible it would, in opinion of US Govt, contribute to prestige of Italian Govt in present difficult period and would strengthen moderate elements included in the Govt. Accordingly, US Govt proposed that if HBM Govt concurred and after Soviet Govt had been informed of what was intended, Italian Govt would be told that US would welcome Italian declaration of war on Japan, but that such action would involve no commitments regarding Allied resources or shipping.

British Govt had not been approached by Italian Govt in this matter and, apart from press articles some months ago, Emb’s letter was first indication that Italian Govt were seriously contemplating a, declaration of war on Japan. After considering all the factors put forward by US Govt, however, HBM Govt are inclined to agree with views of US and are accordingly happy to concur in proposal outlined in communication under reference. HBM Govt attach particular importance to reservation made that intimation to Italian Govt that US would welcome an Italian declaration of war on Japan [Page 960] would involve no commitments regarding Allied resources or shipping.

FonOff would appreciate being informed in due course of instructions which it is intended to send to US representatives at Moscow and Rome and requests Emb to ascertain from Dept whether it is desired that HBM representatives associate themselves with any communications to be made to the Govts of Italy and the USSR.”

Sent Dept as 5982; rptd to Moscow as 198.

  1. Telegram 5144 not printed.
  2. His Britannic Majesty’s Government.