874.00/12–349: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Secretary of State



1011. Reference Legtel 1009 December 21 and Deptel 405 December l.2 Assistant Foreign Minister Kamenov finally saw me this afternoon. Contrary to his usual friendly manner, he was extremely ill at ease. While friendly enough during our talk, when I rose to go he bade me farewell extremely stiffly and unsmilingly; evidently afraid his secretary might see or overhear him.

I made without change observations contained in my aide-mémoire, text of which was sent in my telegram 1009 December 2. I then asked whether I should send denial which I desired to have published by local press to him direct. He said it should go direct to press section of Foreign Office and that he would discuss with Foreign Minister whether or not Foreign Office would use its good offices to secure its publication in press. I remarked it was obviously Foreign Office’s duty in case where international relations are injured by a false story to use its offices to have such stories corrected. He made no reply.

He went on to say that this was merely a statement in the indictment and that if false—I interrupted to say there could be no doubt in his mind but that it was false—that it would be corrected during trial. I said I could not be as optimistic as he; in the pastor’s trial obviously false testimony was allowed to remain as in article in indictment and sentence. As a minor example a former member of Legation was accused in pastor’s trial of having a conversation with one of defendants, although alleged conversation took place six months prior to former’s actual arrival in Bulgaria.

Kamenov said everyone in Foreign Office had been greatly surprised re story in paper (obviously to convey too that Foreign Office was not consulted re indictment, which is probably true). He then said doubtfully that it might be possible Traicho Kostov had mistaken the identity of his caller. I said that publication of this patently false [Page 366] story had naturally caused me to wonder whether trial would not present some other surprises for members of Legation and it had even occasioned speculation as to attitude of Bulgarian Government toward my continued representation here. In response to last he said rather stiffly that this question “has not yet arisen.” He attempted to soften the obvious implication of this statement by saying that people at Foreign Office had appreciated me and he felt that I had been well received there. Interview ended at this point.

I do not believe Foreign Office has intention or power to cause local press to print my denial of story. It is possible Kostov “concession” of alleged talks with me may be soft-pedaled in trial but I doubt it. During trial there may well be other false testimony directed against me and Legation and I must regard it as likely that Bulgarian Government will request my recall following trial.

I am sending denial to press section of Foreign Office with request it be printed in all Bulgarian newspapers and am issuing similar statement to local correspondents (all Bulgarians) of American papers and press agencies.

  1. Not printed. It reported that Minister Heath had been unable to secure an interview with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Poptomov and was seeking instead to meet with Assistant Foreign Minister Kamenov. Heath had prepared an aide-mémoire which he intended to leave with Kamenov. It protested the passage in the Kostov indictment (see the editorial note supra) alleging a conversation with Heath in 1947, and it asked the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry to arrange for the publication of Heath’s denial of the allegation. The aide-mémoire concluded with the following language previously authorized in telegram 405, December 1, to Sofia, not printed:

    “I am instructed to say that my government takes serious view of Bulgarian Government’s use of unwarranted and false statements concerning US official representatives in Sofia and that in these circumstances US Government cannot be expected to place faith in Bulgarian Government intentions with respect to maintenance of normal and friendly relations between two countries.” (874.00/12–249)

  2. Not printed, but see the preceding footnote.