Pierre Laval succeeded Louis Barthou as Foreign Minister after his assassination in Marseilles at the side of the Alexander I King of Yugoslavia on October 9, 1934. He borrowed from his predecessor the idea of a system of collective security intended to contain the threat of Hitler in Europe. On January 4, 1935, Pierre Laval went to Rome, capital of Fascist Italy, to meet Mussolini. It was the beginning of a diplomatic offensive intended to enclose Adolf Hitler's Germany in a network of alliances.
He proposed a treaty to Benito Mussolini that defined disputed parts of French Somaliland (now Djibouti) as part of Eritrea, redefined the official status of Italians in French-held Tunisia, and essentially gave the Italians a free hand in dealing with the Abyssinia Crisis with Ethiopia. Italy was also to receive the Aouzou strip which was to be moved from French-ruled Chad to Italian-ruled Libya (this issue would have some implications in World War II and in post-colonial Libya-Chad relations).
In exchange for all these concessions, France hoped (in vain, as it turned out) for Italian support against German aggression.
- Langer, William L. ed., An Encyclopaedia of World History, (1948), Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. Pg. 990.