865.014/8–1749: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy


1852. During call on Perkins1 Aug. 11, Ital Chargé brought up question Ital colonies. After discussing background in terms their polit importance Italy and events at last GA, Luciolli outlined in most gen terms current thinking Ital Govt as follows: Re Somaliland, Ital Govt willing undertake trusteeship provided it long enough to justify Ital expense.

Eritrea shld achieve early independence under sponsorship internatl group including Ethiopians. Responding question whether Eritrean population not similar Ethiopian, Luciolli mentioned Moslems, substantial Ital populations Asmara Massawa, preference other population against incorporation Ethiopia, and theory that as result European influence Eritrea more advanced than Ethiopia so that incorporation [Page 580]therein wld be backward step. Recognized it no longer possible for Italy enjoy special position Eritrea.

Re Libya, Ital Govt recognizes situation Cyrenaica and prepared see it achieve early independence in close relations with UK; Tripolitania shld also achieve early independence in close relations with Italy. Continued that Ital Govt advocates early elections Tripolitania and subsequent establishment independent state, and conclusion Treaty recognizing close relations with Italy, all to be accomplished under internatl sponsorship. No mention Fezzan.

Luciolli was told Dept wld appreciate receiving comprehensive statement Ital position as a whole on colonies, including details of ramifications and methods proposed for implementation. Luciolli said he assumed Dept informed of progress Alessandrini talks London2 but wld seek instrs.

Dept is in fact receiving reports from London, both of Ital views expressed there and Brit views.3 In considering our own position and reactions there to other interested govts, notably Brit and French, Dept has however felt handicapped by absence authoritative and comprehensive expression Ital position as first indicated by Rusk to Tarchiani in conversation July 19.4 Dept hopes Ital Govt will not have understood from Dept’s reluctance engage in formal four power talks that we do not continue to be hopeful that through bilateral discussion considerable areas agreement may be established between ourselves Brit, French and Itals prior GA. It is with this objective in mind, that we asked Luciolli obtain comprehensive statement.

Pls approach FonOff to support this request in manner you consider most appropriate referring to Rusk-Tarchiani conversation and using such of foregoing discussion as appears desirable. FonOff shld of course understand Dept cannot commit itself in advance to accept [Page 581]and support Ital position when conveyed to us, but will give it most serious consideration together with views Brit and French Govts in further considering our position. Likewise hopes other govts will take into account our views.

Further indication urgency from our point of view is fact that views expressed to USUN New York by BrazDel on Libya strikingly similar Ital views as expressed by Luciolli, from which appears Itals already lining up Latin American support their position.

  1. George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.
  2. Adolfo Alessandrini, an official of the Italian Foreign Ministry and Italian observer at the U.N. General assembly on the colonies question, had been sent from Rome to Tripoli to pave the way for some from of Italian informal representation in that area, to familiarize himself with the situation in Tripoli, and to maintain liaison with the Italian colonies and with the British Economic Working Party in Tripolitania. He subsequently took part in talks in London on July 25 and 27.
  3. On August 3 Tebbit came to the Department of State and gave Wellons a summary of the Alessandrini talks. He indicated that the British Foreign Office and Alessandrini appeared to be agreed in principle on independence for Libya. Alessandrini suggested that independence for Libya and particularly for Tripolitania might best be achieved in stages. The Foreign Office made it clear that the British were strongly opposed to any restrictions on British freedom of action in Libya prior to the achievement of independence. Alessandrini said that the Italian government had no thought of political or military control and that it was interested primarily in economic cooperation and the protection of the Italian residents of Tripolitania. Memorandum of conversation by Wellons, not printed (865.014/8–349).
  4. For text of the memorandum of conversation, see p. 568.