(also Laval-Mussolini Agreements), a group of agreements signed on Jan. 7, 1935, in Rome by B. Mussolini, the leader of Fascist Italy, and P. Laval, the French foreign minister. The pact settled the main disputes between the two countries. Specifically, France ceded to Italy 114,000 sq km of territory on the Libyan border, a small part of French Somali-land (800 sq km) and the island of Dumeira, in addition to 20 percent of the shares in the Djibouti–Addis Ababa railroad. During the secret negotiations, Laval granted Mussolini a free hand in Ethiopia.
The pact signified Italy’s renunciation of claims on French possessions in Africa, particularly in Tunisia, and France’s connivance in the Italian aggression against Ethiopia. The participants reaffirmed the need to preserve Austria’s independence and inviolability. The Rome Pact was a temporary compromise by means of which France hoped to stave off a German-Italian rapprochement and Italy hoped to strengthen its position in Africa and Austria. Italy denounced the pact in December 1938.