8 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 3

Italy's Peace Endeavours

The eleventh-hour attempt of Signor Mussolini to avert the war -calls for some examination in view of the terms in which the official announcement issued from Rome is couched. Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have paid tribute to the Duce's efforts, and it is therefore prcbably without intent that the Rome announcement seems to imply a certain unreasonableness on the part of France and Britain. It was on August 31st, Thursday, that Signor Mussolini proposed to the British and French Governments the calling of an international conference, including those two Powers, Germany, Poland, and Italy herself, to revise those clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which were the cause of the present trouble. Rem:: seems to make it a ground of complaint that London and Paris did not reply till SeptembtA1st, which was actually the next day, a delay which was surely not unreasonable in view of the manifold preoccupations of Ministers of both countries at that moment. The British and French Governments assented in principle, but Herr Hitler had some questions to ask, and after further interchanges London and Paris stipulated that as pre-condition of a conference German forces should be withdrawn from Polish soil. The Germans refused that, and the conference proposal lapsed. The Anglo-French stipulation was, of course, essential, and while the peace initiative on the Duce's part deserves full appreciation the invasion of Poland made its failure inevitable.