740.0011 EW/6–745

The Italian Embassy to the Department of State

No. 3726

The recent events at the Italian western border have caused a very serious—and, unfortunately, justified—alarm in Italian public opinion. The decided unfriendly propaganda activity and administrative action [Page 736] which the French troops are carrying on in the occupied zone, may in fact lead to believe that France might be induced, with false strategic pretexts, to claim “ex novo” territorial vindications.

In this regard the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just communicated to the Embassy the following official specifications:

General De Gaulle has given to the Italian Government explicit assurances that France wanted to respect, and to have others respect, Italian territorial integrity.
In such a spirit the negotiations concerning Tunis were carried out and concluded. The status of the Italians in Tunis was always recognized by the French as the only serious obstacle to the rapprochement between the two nations. The sacrifice of important positions in Tunisia, which belonged to Italy decades before the fascist regime, was made by Italy with honesty and loyalty in such a spirit.
The most simple rectifications of the frontier would meet with Italy’s strongest opposition. It is a fact widely known that the western frontier is strategically very safe for France and unsafe for Italy. Further eventual acquisitions, even very modest ones, would open outright our valleys to the easy invasion of Northern Italy. Such rectifications would in no way whatsoever be justified by considerations of a defensive strategical character.

The Italian Embassy has the honor to communicate the foregoing to the Department of State for any use it may deem advisable to make of it, with the assurance that it responds to the utmost scrupulous truth.