15 MAY 1941, Page 2

The European Chess-Board

Admiral Darlan has had an interview with Hitler, and there are rumours that Hitler is to have an interview with Stalin. The Vichy Cabinet has approved some agreement, the terms of which are still undisclosed, with Hitler. There are rather persistent rumours that General Franco has at last agreed to the passage of German troops through Spain and less confident rumours that Marshal Petain has refused to agree to the passage of German troops through Vichy France (which is, in any case, not essential to Hitler, since he controls the West Coast of France right down to the Spanish frontier). There is definite information of an interview between Admiral Leahy and Marshal Main, and it is not difficult to conjecture what kind of representations the American Ambassador made on the general situation. That is a rough picture of the present complications of European diplomacy. The Germans are undoubtedly exercising all possible pressure in every European capital. What our own diplomacy is doing to counteract them in centres like Moscow and Madrid must be left to the imag- ination. It can only be hoped that more is happening than meets the eye. Regarding Russia in particular, we have no reason to take satisfaction in the present arms-length relation- ship. Mr. Eden would be well-advised to disregard both pre- judice and petty consideration of prestige in an attempt to alter it. If the Germans are left to make all the running, we need not be surprised if they win the race. Stalin is unlikely to go to war with Germany unless he is attacked by her, but it might well be possible to convince him of the unwisdom of giving her active assistance.