865.30/10–048: Telegram

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


3941. Before his departure from Rome today for a few days in the north, Count Sforza asked me to see the Secretary General of the Foreign Office. Count Zoppi referred to fact that in the negotiations which La Malfa has been carrying on in Moscow in addition to difficulties in connection with the discussions of a commercial treaty the Soviet Government introduced a demand for the transfer of the naval ships assigned to them under the treaty.

Zoppi said La Malfa feels that, if the Italian Government must turn over the ships, some advantage might be gained by bringing the question of the transfer into the general discussions he is carrying on. Prime Minister therefore asked Foreign Office to find out from us whether there was any change in the attitude we have maintained thus far, that the treaty should be strictly adhered to; any change which might have been brought about by recent or pending events.

[Page 988]

I told the Secretary General that there had been no change in our attitude on this question, and that we had as recently as within the last few days received instructions to join with the other members of the Four Power Naval Commission in a new note to Italian Government on the subject of this transfer, provided the language was courteous.1 I told the Secretary General that the Four Power Naval Commission were now discussing the language of this new note.

Count Zoppi then said that the Italian Government would very likely authorize La Malfa to discuss the matter of this transfer when he returned to Moscow. His present plan is to depart from Rome next Monday. He then asked that we do anything that we can in the Naval Commission to delay matters until La Malfa can negotiate discussions on the matter in Moscow in order that the Italian Government may be in a position to inform the Four Power Naval Commission that they have resumed bilateral discussions with the Soviet Union.

I said that I had just talked with Captain Pryce and lie had informed me that the discussions on the now note were now progressing on the basis of a draft presented by the Soviet member, and that if agreement were reached in Four Power Naval Commission we had no choice other than to present the note to the Italian Government. I said it was my impression that there would not be agreement on the language of the note within the next week.

Paris pass to DelGA.

Sent Department 3941, repeated Paris 619, London 388, Moscow 97.

  1. In telegram 3788 of September 24, 1948, not printed, Dunn reported that the Soviet member of the naval commission had withdrawn his initial draft letter and tabled a new draft to be addressed by the Naval Commissioner to the Italian Government in reply to its note of September 9th. Dunn stated that in view of the Department’s previous instructions he was authorizing Captain Pryce to associate himself with a mutually agreed letter, but to urge that the Italians be asked regarding proposed dates of delivery because of technical considerations. (865.30/9–2448)

    In its telegraphic instruction 2427 of September 27, not printed, the Department approved the procedure which Dunn had set forth (865.30/9–2548).