No. 322 NAI DFA 27/158

Letter from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

London, 29 February 1936

Mr. Eden asked the High Commissioners for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and myself, to meet him this morning.

There had been a very long discussion at the Cabinet on Wednesday which resulted in the British Government deciding to support the proposal which would come before the Committee of Eighteen at Geneva on Monday next for an Oil Sanction against Italy.

They were anxious if possible to avoid taking any lead; the principle of an oil sanction had really been accepted already and they were anxious to do all they could to support the League.

One of the considerations which had influenced the British Government was their loss of prestige in America through the Hoare-Laval proposals.1 It was thought that this loss of standing might be to a large extent recovered if the British stood firmly at Geneva for the oil sanction.

Another matter which was exceedingly secret and confidential was that the British had decided to move away two of their ships in the Mediterranean.

I reminded Mr. Eden that at our last meeting he had not made up his mind about the oil question. Might I ask what were the factors since this which had led to his decision? Was not the effect in the United States a matter of conjecture? Mr. Eden said it was. Even when he went into the Cabinet on Wednesday he was not really sure about the question but at the end of their long discussion he left the Cabinet with no doubts at all that it was the only thing for Great Britain to do. The cumulative arguments adduced at that meeting were so weighty as to convince anyone even more doubtful than himself. Another point which had affected his mind was that until fairly recently the British had thought that the Italians could not win through in Abyssinia. The recent victories and other information about the Italian forces led them to modify if not to abandon that opinion.

I enquired whether the position of France on the oil question was known. Mr. Eden said he would see M. Flandin2 on Monday morning before the meeting and he hoped that he would support the proposal, though he had no definite information as to France's position on the matter at this moment.

An Officer of the Foreign Office - a Mr. Stephenson I think - was called in to give information on some details of procedure. These were not important enough to record here but Mr. Eden asked him if there was anything more known this morning on the oil question. Mr. Stephenson said that they had received that morning information which showed that Mexico and Russia were strongly in favour of the embargo. About Roumania they were not quite so sure but they thought that Roumania would probably fall into line and later raise the question of compensation.

[signed] J.W. Dulanty
High Commissioner

1 See above No. 307.

2 Pierre Etienne Flandin (1889-1958), French Premier (Nov. 1934-May 1935), French Foreign Minister (1936 and 1940-41).

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