78 ___--------------------------------------------------------------------- " All this time the suspicion was growing in Rome that we did not want conversations at all and that we were engaged in a Machiavellian design to lull the Italians into inactivity while we completed our rearmament, with the intention presently of taking our revenge for the Italian conquest of Abyssinia. I should not be at all surprised if hon* Members opposite had laughed at my description of this suspicion. Not only to hon. Members opposite, but to all of us the idea seems fantastic. It is one which never entered our heads, but when there is an atmosphere of ill will, suspicion breeds suspicion. The result of this suspicion was a series of activities on the Italian side, the movement of troops, the stirring-up of propaganda, and other matters to which my right hon. Friend alluded, but which I need not repeat, because everybody is aware of them. But it is in these circumstances, in a steadily worsening atmosphere over- hanging our relations with Italy, that a fresh opportunity arose to break out of this vicious circle. It arose on the xoth of this month. " Following on some amiable conversations between the Italian Ambassador and my right hon. Friend, the Ambassador called at the Foreign Office and stated that these conversations had been sincerely welcomed in Rome and that he had been instructed to report that the Italian Government were ready at any time to open conversations with us. He added that he desired the conversations to be as wide as possible, embracing, of course, the question of the formal recognition of the Abyssinian conquest, but also not excluding Spain. In reply, the Foreign Secretary pointed out that we in this country were bound to 'act as loyal members of the League, but he added that it seemed to him that the attitude of the League and especially that of the Mediterranean Powers would no doubt be considerably influenced by the fact, if fact it came to be, that we and the Italian Government had come to an agreement which was a real contribution to a general appease- ment. My right hon. Friend emphasised that this was a factor which would have great weight with public opinion, not only in this country, but also in France and in the other Mediterranean States and, which is important, in the United States of America also.