Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph N. Greene, Jr., of the Division of Southwest European Affairs


Mr. Boyd,1 acting on instructions of the British Foreign Office, informed me of a conversation which took place between the Foreign Ministers Bevin and Sforza on August 13. According to Mr. Bevin’s report of this conversation to the British Embassy at Rome, Count Sforza had suggested to him that the Trieste question might be resolved by agreement between Italy and Yugoslavia on the partition of Zone B, with some sort of neutral zone being established between the part returning to Italy and that part retained by Yugoslavia. Mr. Bevin advised Count Sforza to let the Trieste question lie for the present. Subsequently, Mr. Bevin received a report from Sir Charles Peake at Belgrade of a conversation he had had with Bebler, in which the latter indicated that the Yugoslav Government would be turning to the most important outstanding political problem between itself and the Italian Government, namely, Trieste, as soon as commercial matters are in hand.

As a result of this report, Mr. Bevin has instructed the British Embassy at Rome to advise Count Sforza that he, Mr. Bevin, in their earlier conversation had not meant to convey the idea that if the Yugoslavs take the initiative in the Trieste matter he thought the Italians should rebuff them.

At the same time, the Foreign Office in London indicated that they thought that if any such partition as that attributed to Count Sforza were to be arranged the occasion should be taken to “tidy up” the border. Assuming that Pirano and Capodistria are to be returned to [Page 520] Italy, the Foreign Office is inclined to think that the Risano spring, which now lies east of the Free Territory border in Yugoslav territory, and which is the natural water supply for the two coastal cities, should also be returned to Italian sovereignty. It is pointed out that this border rectification would preclude any part of Italy being dependent on water supply in Yugoslav territory.

The Foreign Office is also inclined to suggest that the northern border of the Free Territory should be adjusted in order to get entirely into Italian territory the power line which supplies Trieste from Italy. At the moment, this line traverses Yugoslav territory for a short distance just north of the point at which the Italian, Yugoslav and Free Territory boundaries converge.

The Foreign Office suggests that these ideas may find favor in the Italian Government as something they could advertise to the Italian people as concessions by the Yugoslav Government, thus compensating for surrender of claims to the southern part of Zone B. The Italians might even advance these two points as quid pro quos in their negotiations with the Yugoslavs.

Mr. Boyd informed me that the British Embassy here has been instructed to ascertain the Department’s views on the foregoing.

I told Mr. Boyd that I would like to have the opportunity to consult other interested officers of the Department before giving him a formal reply, but that my off-hand reaction was that we must bear in mind two essential points: committed as we are to the March 20 declaration, we can in no way do anything which might give the appearance of proposing partition, although if the Italians propose it that is up to them; and further, that even if the Italians and Yugoslavs reach some agreement on the resolution of the Free Territory of Trieste question, it cannot be put into force as an amendment to the Peace Treaty unless or until at least the Soviet and French Governments, in addition to the United States and United Kingdom, and perhaps all governments which have ratified the Peace Treaty agree.2

I assured Mr. Boyd that I would get in touch with him as soon as possible after the matter had been further considered.

  1. John Gordon Boyd, Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Washington.
  2. In telegram 2016 of September 2 to Rome, not printed, the Department stated that it was air-mailing copies of this memorandum and asked for comment (860S.00/9–249).

    In telegram 2846 of September 14, not printed, Dunn reported having been told in the Italian Foreign Office that they knew of no suggestion by Sforza to Bevin for a solution of the problem of Trieste by agreement on partition of Zone B. They said further that while they would not reject any initiative by the Yugoslavs in the matter, they had no intention on their part of making any proposal. Furthermore, they felt that the Yugoslavs were making the position of the Italian Government very difficult through continued persecution of Italian nationals in Yugoslav territory and Zone B. (860S.00/9–1449).