No. 269  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A26

Letter from Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

ROME, 20 February 1943

I had a long conversation last night with Signor Bastianini,1 the new Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who has just been installed in office. On the day after his arrival at the Palazzo Chigi he wrote me a note a copy of which has already been forwarded to you telling me of his appointment and recalling the friendly relations that existed between us when he occupied the same post some four or five years ago. This time his position is much more important as he is virtually Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Duce only performs duties of a protocolaire nature such as the reception of Ambassadors on their arrival or departure, or bearing on high State functions. Everything else concerning Foreign Affairs and the direction of the Foreign Office is his concern.

The Under Secretary inquired about conditions in Ireland, the question of supplies and the difficulties of transport. He seemed anxious to know if the rivalries and jealousies existing between the American and British soldiers were really serious and if English big business resented the high handedness of the Yankees in their commercial dealings. It appeared to me as if he considered that the development of such rivalries might be an advantage to Italy when peace conditions come to be discussed.

Signor Bastianini was most cordial during the half hour I spent with him and said he would like to meet me frequently to talk about things as we were accustomed to in the old days. I assured him I would be only too glad to do so. I gave him to understand that the Italian Legation in Dublin was amongst the most popular in our capital and that our people entertained the most friendly sentiments in regard to the people of Italy. He said that these sentiments were highly appreciated, and reciprocated, by the Italian people and the Italian Government, and that expression was given to them from time to time in the Italian press.

[Signed] M. MACWHITE

1 Giuseppe Bastianini (1899-1961), Italian Ambassador to Britain (1939-40).

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