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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

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.