2 AUGUST 1935, Page 1

First Steps at Geneva The League of Nations Council meeting

on Abyssinia opened on Wednesday inconclusively, as was to be expected, but the first short sitting was notable for a firm and necessary refusal by Mr: Eden to see the dis- cussion limited to any :mere details of arbitration pro- cedure. There ought to be inscribed on the walls of the Council chamber that clause in Article 4 of the Covenant which reads "The Council may deal at its meetings with any matter within the sphere of action of the League or affecting the peace of the world."

There were signs that while France still desires to go far in support of Italy most members of the Council would welcome a strong lead by Great Britain in defence of League principles, and they may still get it. Mean- while the compromise proposed by M. Laval, which provides for a resumption of the Conciliation Commis- sion's work and for simultaneous consultations between Britain, France and Italy, as signatories of the Treaty of 1906 for the protection of Abyssinia, has some possi- bilities and some grave disadvantages. Open discussion at Geneva is safer than private talks between Great Powers, and delay, which might be of value if Signor Mussolini would reaffirm his Covenant and Kellogg Pact pledges, may serve simply to enable him to complete his military preparations. Firm action by Great Britain in public at Geneva is still the world's best hope.