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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr LYONS (Wilmot) (Prime Minister) . by leave- During the course of my remarks to this House on the 2nd November, I intimated that the United Kingdom Government proposed to take the necessary steps to bring into operation the Anglo-Italian Agreement which was signed last April. I also stated that the Commonwealth Government had been in touch with the British Government on this subject, and had expressed the view that the sooner the agreement was implemented the better it would be for both Great Britain and Italy, and probably for the general peace of the world. The British Parliament has since carried a motion welcoming the intention of the Chamberlain Ministry to bring the agreement into force, and this Government has now received advice that the British Ambassador at Rome, Lord Perth, will to-day hand to the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Ciano, new letters of credence accrediting the Ambassador to the King of Italy, Emperor of Ethiopia. A declaration recording the entry into force of the Anglo-Italian Agreement will also be signed by Lord Perth and Count Ciano this evening. So far as the Commonwealth of Australia is concerned, the British Ambassador has been requested to inform the Italian Government that the Commonwealth Government will accord de jure recognition of the incorporation of Abyssinia into the Royal Italian Empire.

Honorable members may recall that when the question of Abyssinia was considered by the League Council last May, no formal resolution was passed, but that the President of the council observed that a large majority of the members of the council were clearly in favour of each individual State deciding for itself, in the light of its own situation, the question of the recognition of the Italian annexation of Abyssinia. From the information in the possession of the Government, it would appear that except in one area, the Italian Government is now in full control of Abyssinia, and there appears to be no likelihood of that control being seriously challenged in the future. The question of the maintenance of amicable relations between Great Britain and Italy is of considerable importance to the people of Australia for, as honorable members will realize, it is to our interests that a peaceful and friendly situation should be preserved in the Mediterranean. In addition, this Government, and the people of Australia generally, will welcome any move that is made to lessen international tension, and bring about more cordial relations between the various countries of the world. Until the last few years, a traditional friendship existed between Great Britain and Italy, and it is my earnest hope that the implementation of the Anglo-Italian Agreement will witness the revival of this friendly relationship.

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