Washington (Aug. 30)
The Italian Government has tentatively rejected the United States request that it give shelter to 25,000 Jewish refugees now in camps in Austria, it was learned at the State Department today. It is believed that British pressure on the Italians was responsible for the unfavorable answer.
The State Department has refused to accept the Italian rejection as final and will continue to negotiate until an agreement can be reached, it was emphasized.
Under the proposal made by the United States, Italy would not have to assume any financial responsibility for the displaced Jews. The State Department had suggested that UNRRA would supply and administer the camps at Bari and Milan, which are at present unoccupied.
British pressure to block the transfer is attributed to fear that the refugees will be closer to ports from which they could embark for Palestine. According to State Department sources the Italian Government declared it could not undertake responsibility for 25,000 refugees because a number of Italians were leaving the Venezia Giulia.
Willingness of Italy to accept the refugees was emphasized at the Italian Embassy here, which, however, stressed the food scarcity and lack of facilities to care for so large a number of persons. An embassy spokesman ventured the opinion that an agreement can be reached, particularly if a time limit for the stay of the refugees in Italy is fixed.