No. 836

768.5/1–2451: Telegram

The Ambassador in Yugoslavia (Allen) to the Secretary of State 1


956. Kardelj did not request military assistance during our discussion today.2 In fact, he stated clearly that he was not authorized by his government to do so.

His remarks, while entirely friendly, were grim and hesitant in contrast with readiness with which he spoke yesterday. It is obvious that a serious and possible critical debate is taking place inside [Page 1698] the politbureau on question of seeking economic and military assistance from the West, particularly from US. I judge from Kardelj’s demeanor that important cabinet and/or politbureau meeting continued most of last night.

Kardelj said he would probably wish to talk with me and my British and French colleagues within a few days concerning military and economic questions, which he considered inseparable since Yugoslav Government economic difficulties were primarily caused by necessity for heavy military expenditures and manpower utilization. He said actual negotiations on this subject would take place in London, Paris, and Washington, since Yugoslavs felt it extremely important to avoid leak to Cominform which might result from conversation in Belgrade and frequent use of cables. He said conversations here would therefore be merely to keep 3 Ambassadors informed.

I think it likely that Kardelj had intended to open serious negotiations with me to demand [military assistance, but] that last night’s meeting caused change of plans. In response to my specific question, he said our discussions yesterday and today should be considered as solely for purpose of examining Far Eastern situation. His opening remark today was that latest Chinese communication to Indian Ambassador in Peking appeared to have changed entire Far Eastern situation and he hoped US might not feel it necessary to insist upon our resolution.

He then said IBRD had informed Velebit of necessity for Yugoslavia to obtain grant to cover its payments deficit of approximately 130 million dollars during next two years. He said that while economic and military questions must be discussed “in separate framework” he hoped personally that military supplies from US, if requested, might be obtained in same way as those now being obtained from France, i.e., through extension of credit.

I commented merely that decision whether to seek further economic aid and/or military assistance were entirely for Yugoslav Government to decide. I added personal opinion that either would present major difficulties but that, as in case of food request, I did not wish to influence Yugoslavs’ decision or discourage it by friendly but frank reference to major difficulties. I made no reference to type of difficulties I had in mind, and Kardelj made no inquiry. He terminated conversation by recalling that he was unauthorized to speak on substance.

My guess is that stern necessity will force Yugoslavs to seek direct military and economic aid from US, although certain Yugoslav officials find decision highly unpalatable and that Tito himself is afraid of giving USSR pretext for attack.

  1. Repeated to Paris, London, and Moscow.
  2. In telegram 952 from Belgrade, January 23, Allen reported Kardelj’s views on Korea, collective security, and the United Nations which were expounded during a 2-hour conversation at the Foreign Minister’s residence on January 23. (795.00/1–2351)