740.00119 E.W./4–2046: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State

1268. Following is text of body of reply in translation dated April 19, received today from Molotov to Kennan’s letter of March 21 transmitting our proposal for revision of Italian armistice:

“As is known the Soviet Govt has already informed the Govt of the US that it takes a positive attitude to measures which might ease the position of Italy. For that reason the Soviet Govt in a desire to meet the wishes of the Italian Govt agrees to revise the armistice conditions with Italy now before the conclusion of the peace treaty for the purpose of introducing into them changes designed to ease the situation of Italy.

The Soviet Govt is basically agreed with the draft agreement concerning changes in the armistice regime for Italy which has been proposed by the Govt of the USA but considers it necessary to make the following comments with relation to its individual provisions.

1. The Soviet Govt is agreed to the proposed abolition of the Allied Commission in Italy. In this connection the Soviet Govt assumes that corresponding measures will be taken in other countries—former allies of Germany in Europe—as well.

2. The Soviet Govt is agreed to the provision set forth in point B of Article III of the draft agreement with respect to the Italian Naval forces.

As far as the merchant fleet is concerned it is considered inexpedient from the standpoint of the purpose of easing the position of Italy to limit further the rights of the Italian Govt in disposing over and utilizing the Italian merchant fleet. On the contrary the according to the Italian Govt of the right of full disposal over the merchant fleet as well as of civil aviation could constitute a matter easing the position of Italy.

3. As far as the question of the participation of France in the revision of the armistice regime for Italy in the opinion of the Soviet Govt it goes without saying that France has this right inasmuch as it is considered as a country having signed the armistice conditions with Italy.

The present answer of the Soviet Govt is being communicated simultaneously to the Govts of Great Britain and France.”