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The French Yellow Book


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No. 360 :
M. Francois-Poncet, French Ambassador in Rome. to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Rome, September 2, 1939. 7.25 p.m.

(Received at 10 p.m.)

THE British Ambassador and I were called today at 2 p.m. to the Palazzo Chigi. Count Ciano informed us there that he had finally resolved to inform the F├╝hrer and Herr von Ribbentrop, but without putting any pressure upon them, that France and Great Britain had agreed to the suggestion for a conference to which they had hope of bringing Poland. This conference could follow very closely upon an immediate armistice, leaving the adversaries in their respective positions.

This suggestion had not been at once rejected from the German side, but Herr Hitler had pointed out that, being faced with a French note and a British note which the Ambassadors of the two countries had handed him on the evening of the 1st, he wished to know if these notes were in the nature of an ultimatum or not. If so, he would definitely reject them. If the contrary was true, he would ask for some time to think them over until noon to-morrow. Herr Hitler further requested that the answer to his two questions should be sent him through Rome.

Count Ciano then telephoned directly to Your Excellency, who, after stating that the note handed yesterday by the French Ambassador was not in the nature of an ultimatum, gave approval in principle, in so far as the time limit was concerned, subject to the views of the President of the Council.

Count Ciano then telephoned to Lord Halifax, who himself also stated to him that the English note was not in the nature of an ultimatum and informed him that on the question of the time limit he (Lord Halifax) must consult his Government. He added that in his opinion to halt the troops on their positions would be insufficient; the occupied territories would have to be evacuated.

Count Ciano replied that in his opinion there was little possibility of obtaining this from the Germans.

So as to leave time for the necessary consultations to be held, and after I had pointed out that the consent of the Poles would be harder to get, we decided to part and to meet again in Count Ciano's room at 4 p.m.

Francois-Poncet.

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