Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Southern European Affairs (Cannon) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Matthews)

Mr. Matthews: The underlying draft telegram to Belgrade68 seeks further information on Ambassador Patterson’s invitation—completely on his own initiative, so far as we know—to Marshal Tito to visit the United States, I was somewhat taken aback when Mr. Gavrilovic,69 in rather formal language “accepted” the invitation on behalf of Marshal Tito and asked that an early date be set.

I disposed of the matter for the moment by saying that in view of the death of President Roosevelt,70 and the pre-occupation of the higher officials of the Department with the San Francisco conference, I wondered whether it might not be necessary to hold in abeyance all projects for visits of individual foreign statesmen. This of course was a stop-gap answer, and someone will have to make a more definite reply, either to the new Yugoslav Ambassador71 or to the Yugoslav delegates when they return from San Francisco. I question whether it would be advisable to instruct Patterson to handle it himself, at [Page 1226] least until we know more about what Patterson may actually have said.

It may be, of course, that Marshal Tito “misunderstood” Mr. Patterson. Tito has a way of jumping the gun, as witness the unexpected arrival of his military mission at SHAEF72 recently. It would be characteristic of the dynamism of the Partisans to look upon a suggestion for “a short visit to the United States some time after the war” (Patterson’s telegram of April 5) as meaning a firm invitation to be taken up at once.

As for the merits of the proposition, there is a chance that Tito could be worked on here, and an engagement extracted from him to bring about some moderation of the straight and ruthless totalitarian administration he has set up.

Over against that, is the general supposition that his regime would not survive any major democratic change, and he is determined to remain in power. An official visit to this country, where our reserve toward his program has probably been responsible for what few concessions he has made to date, would certainly be interpreted everywhere as definite and long-range acceptance of his Government. We hope that bit by bit we can bring about some half-way compliance in Yugoslavia with the principles of the Yalta Declaration. Until we see some sign of Tito’s moving in that direction it seems to me that it would be a great mistake to build him up by having him come to America.

C[avendish] W. C[annon]
  1. Not printed.
  2. Stoyan Gavrilovich, Yugoslav Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who visited Washington en route to the San Francisco Conference.
  3. April 12, 1945.
  4. Stanoje Simich became Yugoslav Ambassador in the United States on April 24, 1945.
  5. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.