865.014/8–1348: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy

us urgent

2123. On Aug 13 pls send word to Prime Minister along following lines and at same time inform Sforza:

We have given most thoughtful consideration to several communications from Prime Minister and FonMin re disposition former Ital colonies. We appreciate importance which Ital people attach to this question, as well as broader implications re European cooperation which Ital Govt has stressed.

It is self evident disposition these territories has not been easy matter. As far as Ital position is concerned, consideration has had to be given to additional burden which these deficit areas would impose upon already strained Ital economy if trusteeship awarded Italy, as well as any possible economic benefits which might result from additional outlets for Ital surplus population. In addition, examination question whether Ital military forces as limited by peace treaty1 are sufficient for maintenance public order in former colonies has been rendered serious by fact Soviet veto of Ital membership in UN has barred any possibility of simple solution through Security Council action shd it develop additional forces were required.

Conflicting views of other interested govts have also had to be taken into account. Finally, wishes and welfare of local inhabitants these areas had to be given equitable regard in consonance with well established principles of this Govt.

In circumstances, this Govt has decided it is prepared at this stage to take a final decision only as regards Italian Somaliland and the southern portion of Eritrea. As regards Northern Eritrea and Tripolitania, US is reluctant to take definite position owing to more complex factors involved, but has concluded decision shd be postponed to permit further study by appropriate UN body. Pending results this further study, US would not wish preclude any settlement which may [Page 941] find general support. Re Cyrenaica, US feels it is bound respect Brit Govt’s pledge to Senussi, and to support Brit Govt in giving effect this promise. This Govt feels confident Ital Govt will understand US position this matter.

As regards southern Eritrea, US will support cession to Ethiopia, and feels equally confident this solution will meet with approval Ital Govt. For Ital Somaliland, US will support Ital Trusteeship, feeling in light present situation there return of Ital administration can be achieved without overriding difficulty or opposition, and that such return will afford Ital Govt opportunity to demonstrate to world opinion its willingness and capacity to bring about progress and development for mutual benefit native and Ital peoples. Furthermore, US will urge that former Ital residents northern Eritrea and Tripolitania be allowed return their homes during period postponement disposition these areas. It is recognized that otherwise postponement will work further hardship these people, who have thus far been unable plan for future, and that it is only equitable and just they be allowed return to settlement upon which they have expended their labor and resources.

Prime Minister may be assured this Govt will continue give most careful and sympathetic consideration Ital views this matter, faithful to policy of friendly collaboration Amer and Ital peoples which we have consistently pursued in this post-war era.

  1. Article 61 of the Italian Peace Treaty limited the Italian Army to 185,000 combat troops, a force which the United States felt was too small to maintain public order at home and in the colonies.