124.60H3/2–1247: Telegram

The Chargé in Yugoslavia (Cabot) to the Secretary of State


128. Had first interview with Acting Foreign Minister Velebit today. After exchange of courtesies I raised question of Embassy’s translators under arrest, saying I hoped they could be released before my hands were tied by instructions and another disagreeable incident developed. I said I had come in hope of taking constructive action to relieve tension and settle outstanding questions, but present atmosphere unhelpful.

Velebit said he did not know what charges were against Zmejanovich1 but asserted they would positively not involve any work he had done for Embassy. He said Yugoslavia desired good relations with US, that there was no intention to harass Embassy and that peace was vital for country’s reconstruction. He hoped trade relations could early be resumed. He emphasized that country was small and that US could easily hurt it, but pointed out that it was independent and we should not interfere in its internal affairs.

I said that with my Latin American background2 I was last person who would do latter and assured him that I would tolerate no improper activities by Embassy’s Yugoslav employees. I again urged speedy release of translators and previous consultation with Embassy before acting on any further accusations.

Velebit promised to take matter up and inform me of results. While I am not optimistic about release, I am somewhat hopeful further attacks may be momentarily checked.

Talk was at first rather tense, later affable. I suggest Department send me no instructions to act until we see whether Velebit does anything constructive, but I would appreciate Department’s views. Is Yugoslav action invasion of Embassy’s immunities according to international law?

  1. Milosh Zmejanovich, a Yugoslav citizen employed as an Embassy translator, bad been arrested on February 9.
  2. Prior to his assignment as Counselor of Embassy at Belgrade, where he arrived on February 6, Foreign Service Officer Cabot had served in numerous American diplomatic posts in Latin America, most recently as Counselor of Embassy at Buenos Aires.