860H.00/1–348: Telegram

The Ambassador in Yugoslavia (Cannon) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

6. During call on Foreign Minister2 yesterday afternoon I was informed Marshal Tito3 would see me this morning. This was somewhat surprising as to timing but otherwise not entirely unexpected as he had given me rather particular attention at his November 29 reception4 and I had then taken opportunity to suggest that we pursue that conversation sometime during office hours. He had promised to let me know after he caught up with “extra work caused by visits abroad”.

Knowing that interview had been arranged for general informal talk and that theme Tito expected me to develop was improved trade relations, I started by brief discussion prewar and present trade (which I shall report in separate telegram)5 and managed transition to political field by frank statement that many of US products Yugoslav Government needs are in such short supply that exports naturally go to countries friendly to US, and that Yugoslav Government cannot expect credit, whether by US public agencies or commercial banks, so long as American public opinion finds Yugoslav Government invariably opposing US in all efforts for establishing peace and reconstruction.

This brought us to questions of Trieste and Greece.6 On Trieste he said he hoped a good governor would be found soon. I agreed but [Page 1055] added at once that our military had been given responsibilities there which they would fulfill in all conditions in the interim period as honest men and good soldiers and that their task in providing a sound administration had been rendered unnecessarily difficult and at times even dangerous by Yugoslav provocation, incitement of anti-AMG elements and clandestine subversion. Candor compelled me to say that the choice of a governor is made doubly hard by contemplation of a situtation where elements of violence obviously have encouragement and support from across the frontier. In an injured tone Tito said that his commanders complain to him about incidents on the frontier and when by his orders straying “fishermen” are immediately released the Americans say, “There must be some trick in that too”. He hoped Trieste situation would be settled according to the treaty.

On Greece Tito said the whole world knows how Yugoslav Government sees situation there. “We have stated our position repeatedly, but we are not going to do anything dramatic or engage in any adventure.” He pointed to Bebler,7 who was present throughout the interview and said that Foreign Office had kept him fully informed of my conversations at Foreign Office on Greek situation. I said that since my last talk with Bebler I had noted reports that in Bulgaria and Albania the tone is more interventionist and bellicose and in view of recent series of pacts one could suppose this to be by agreed plan. He replied, “Yes, I know that you Americans are worried about Communism thrusting out into other areas but do not forget Yugoslavia’s chief national task is internal development and we need peace”.

It is hard to convey the atmosphere of this curious conversation. I found it hard going with him on the political topics. He had taken pains to remind me this talk was continuation our informal conversation of a month ago but I must note that he has not been receiving diplomats for political talks in recent weeks. It is therefore significant that he seemed to think it useful to have contact with American representative, yet instead of drawing me out he forestalled much of what I would have said by saying Foreign Office had given him full account of my talks. In fact my reference to Albania and Bulgaria was a long shot designed to get at him from some other angle. His rejoinder was oblique but in essence confirmed my earlier impression of Yugoslav attitude of reluctance to make definite decision on recognition of Markos8 unless forced by Moscow. There is no doubt in my mind he is [Page 1056] uneasy about American plans and worried about the implications of Mr. Lovett’s press statement.9

Sent Department as 6, repeated London 3, Paris 2, Athens 3, Moscow 2, Rome 2, Trieste 1, Sofia 3 and Salonika for BalCom as 3.10

  1. Stanoje Simič
  2. Josip Broz-Tito, Yugoslav Premier and Minister of National Defense; Secretary General of the Yugoslav Communist Party.
  3. Official reception celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.
  4. Telegram 9, January 4, from Belgrade, infra.
  5. For documentation on the political relations of the United States with the Free Territory of Trieste, see volume iv . For documentation on the concern of the United States over the civil war in Greece and the assistance rendered to the Greek rebels by Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania, see pp. 222 ff.
  6. Dr. Ales Bebler, Yugoslav Assistant Foreign Minister.
  7. General Markos was the chief of the so-called Greek Democratic Army conducting guerrilla warfare against the Greek Royal Government and head of the so-called Provisional Democratic Government of Free Greece established some where in the Greek-Yugoslav-Albanian mountain border area in late December 1947.
  8. For the text of the statement to the press of December 30, 1947, by Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett on the claim of the Markos junta to have established a provisional government, see telegram 2076, December 30, 1947, to Athens, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 477.
  9. In telegram 142, January 31, from Belgrade, not printed, Ambassador Cannon reported on an unpleasant interview with Assistant Foreign Minister Bebler regarding the detailed but distorted account of the Ambassador’s conversation with Tito which appeared in Newsweek magazine of January 19. The Ambassador feared the disclosures and misrepresentations in the article would prevent cordial access to Tito for some time to come (860H.00/1–3148). In telegram 58, February 3, to Belgrade, not printed, the Department apologized to Ambassador Cannon for the “leak” to the press, the source of which had not yet been learned (860H.00/1–3148).