860H.01/862: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

3868. The Ban of Croatia arrived here at the beginning of the week and has seen King Peter. Nothing as yet has come of their conversations.

The Foreign Office believes that Subasic will not accept premiership, despite any wishes of the King in this regard, for the former considers it a part of Yugoslav tradition that the Premier be a Serb, but he would accept a Cabinet position. The Ban apparently envisages a very small nuclear government which could eschew politics and restore to the King a certain amount of the prestige which he has lost through the bunglers of the Puric government.

The Foreign Office said that Brigadier Maclean reports that Tito will have no dealings whatsoever with the King as long as Mihailovic [Page 1366] remains Minister of War, but that it is remotely possible that Tito might deal with the King, on a purely personal basis and not as King, if Mihailovic were dropped. The Foreign Office says that Tito must be well aware that the King enjoys great popularity with the Serbs and it would therefore be advantageous to the Partisans to have some sort of cooperation with the King and the Yugoslav Government which is recognized by the Allied Governments.

The Foreign Office official said that the prestige of Tito in Allied circles may possibly have been overplayed, but, on the other hand, Mihailovic, although not pro-German is of no use to the Allies as he refuses to become involved in hostilities with the Nazis. The support of Tito must therefore be continued to the fullest extent possible because of his military value, but a delicate balance must also be maintained in support of the Yugoslav Government. The crux of the whole matter is the position of Mihailovic, and it is realized by the Foreign Office that the King is in rather a predicament as he believes, probably quite rightly, that Mihailovic has a very considerable prestige among the Serbs.