860H.01/439

The Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

No. 42

Sir: Supplementing my despatch Yugoslav Series No. 40, January 5, 1943, 1 have the honor herein to report that in this morning’s conversation with Prime Minister Jovanović he handed me a copy of the instructions he is about to send Ambassador Fotić (see copies attached25). In handing this to me he said that he had endeavoured to pursue, in effect, the line which I had previously suggested to him.

He went on to say that he had already sent instructions to Minister Ducić to be prepared to proceed to a new post in the foreign field; he was at the moment turning over in his mind the question of assigning Ducić to Lisbon. As regards Ban Subasić, King Peter, he said, had just sent him an invitation to come here for consultations in connection with Croatian matters. Kosanović would probably be assigned to a diplomatic post in South America. He was, moreover, considering inviting Snoj here for consultations.

In response to my question concerning the Information Centre in New York, the Prime Minister said he now had under consideration [Page 972]the shifting of its functions back to the Press Attaché’s office at the Embassy.

As regards the question of a political directive to General Mihailović, envisaging the coordination of action between the forces of resistance in Yugoslavia, I asked the Prime Minister whether he and his associates had made any progress in this connection since my last meeting with him. He replied that they had devoted much thought to the question; that they had taken into consideration my previous informal suggestion of a possible basis for an agreement between Mihailović and the Partisan leaders: (a) to cease fighting one another; (b) to coordinate their respective plans of action against the common enemy; (c) to conduct their respective campaigns in their respective theatres of operation; and (d) to declare an armistice with each other in any given areas where their respective forces are at grips with one another. He thought this suggestion was interesting; it seemed to be the most practical approach in the matter. He wanted me to know, however, that since I had last seen him he had received reports from inside Yugoslavia very definitely indicating a marked “swing-over” of Partisan followers to Mihailović. Moreover, it appeared that this had been the case in many sections. Were these reports correct, it would seem that the most serious clashes between the Partisan and Mihailović forces were now taking place in the Montenegro area. This was an interesting turn in developments and bore watching, in light of its potential bearing on the course of the whole civil conflict.

As regards the question of appointing a successor to the portfolio of Foreign Minister, made vacant by Minister Nincić’s withdrawal, this matter, the Prime Minister said, was still being thrashed out. He had made it very clear to his associates that in accepting the portfolio, he had done so only provisionally.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
  1. Not printed. The Yugoslav diplomatic representatives were warned regarding separatist tendencies and instructed to play an active part in the propagation of the ideas and interests of Yugoslavia as a whole.