740.0011 European War 1939/33942

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman )

927. See your 1277 April 13.67 The War Department has inquired whether the Department wishes to furnish any guidance for General Deane68 in his relations with the military mission sent by Tito to Moscow. Assuming that he will consult with you on this matter the following background may be useful.

The relations of this Government with the Partisans in Yugoslavia have been kept on a purely military basis in accordance with the principle of supporting all resistance forces in Yugoslavia actively engaged against the enemy. This was discussed at some length in the Department’s 1376 of December 13 [10].69 There has as yet been no occasion for any transactions of other than military nature with the “National Committee of Liberation” and the Department thinks that the correct course would be to consider intercourse with Partisan representatives as of a distinctly military character. American officers are, as you know, in contact with the Partisan leaders in Yugoslavia, both for intelligence and for special operations purposes.

We know, of course, that the Committee has assumed various attributes of government, and Mr. MacVeagh has learned of information which came direct from Tito showing his desire for wider political contacts with the Allies. The Partisan representatives at Cairo, however, appear not to have sought to establish relations with Mr. MacVeagh, though they did manage to meet Governor Lehman,70 by going along with Mr. Novikov when he called on Mr. Lehman.

We have little information concerning the progress of the British talks with the Yugoslav Government leaders at London, but without showing a rigid attitude which might be interpreted as ignorance of [Page 1359] the social forces at work within Yugoslavia or of the imperfections of the groups now in control of the Government in exile, we think that our official relationships should continue to be only with the recognized authorities. Your 955 of March 2171 shows that you have these same considerations in mind.

Under this policy General Deane may have contact with the mission for the exchange of military information. He should, however, avoid in so far as possible intercourse of a ceremonial or official character or any formalities which traditionally carry implications of political recognition, or attend functions where the political dispute between Tito and the Government in exile is likely to be unduly stressed.

These observations outline the Department’s general policy. We realize that you must be guided by your judgment as the occasions arise, in view of the special situation in Yugoslav matters at your post.

  1. Not printed; it announced the arrival in Moscow of a military mission of the Yugoslav National Committee of Liberation (740.0011 European War 1939/–33942).
  2. Maj. Gen. John It. Deane, Chief, United States Military Mission in the Soviet Union.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Herbert H. Lehman, Director General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
  5. Not printed.