No. 838

033.1100/1–2651: Telegram

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


976. On occasion of my presentation of Congressman Kennedy2 to Tito last night, cordial and frank conversation took place which brought out several new points.

In general response to Kennedy’s inquiries regarding Yugoslav Government’s attitude on Korea, rearmament of Germany, Yugoslav need for arms, etc., Tito made significant remark that Yugoslav attitude would be made clearer “very soon”. I asked how this would be done. He smiled and said he thought I would understand. (This was doubtless reference to my recent talks with Kardelj reported in mytels 952, January 233 and 956, January 244).

Kennedy pointed out that reluctance of Yugoslavia and other countries to support adequately US efforts on behalf of collective security in Korea was likely to turn Americans towards isolationism. Tito replied that collective security is world-wide problem and might fail if undue effort were expended in peripheral areas.

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Kennedy asked whether Tito wanted American arms. Tito said Yugoslavia had moral right to seek arms from US or anywhere else since Russia was arming his neighbors, but he added that question of arms was delicate one since he must avoid provoking Cominform. As for needs, Tito mentioned tanks, jets and anti-aircraft. Kennedy referred to anti-tank weapons such as bazookas. Tito said he had some but thought bazooka was too short-range weapon to be very effective.

In response to inquiry re human liberty, Tito said restrictions would be relaxed when present emergency was over.

Tito said he did not expect attack on Yugoslavia this spring but that he was no prophet. He said he could put not less than 2 million men under arms, depending on amount of equipment he could get. He emphasized that in case of attack he would not need foreign troops. “I have plenty of men. With arms, we can do all that is necessary”, he added.

Tito favored Big Four meeting.5 Kennedy asked whether we should negotiate with USSR until we were stronger militarily. Tito said Russia was well aware of our ability to fight long war and would respect our strength. Tito said he thought German problem should be settled politically before we rearmed western Germany. He did not specify his reasons, but appeared to regard re-arming western Germany prior to political settlement as dangerously provocative. (I suspect he also has general left-wing suspicion of revival of Fascism in western Germany).

I asked whether Tito had any concern that Big Power deal might be made at Yugoslav expense. He laughed off question by saying that no such deal would be of any value since Yugoslavia would not recognize it.

At end of conversation Tito made pleasant but pointed appeal to Kennedy not to turn isolationist.6

  1. Repeated for information to London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. Senator John F. Kennedy visited Yugoslavia during a tour of seven European countries in late January and early February 1951. According to Ambassador Allen, Kennedy’s visit with Tito was “highly successful”. (Telegram 975 from Belgrade, January 26, 033.1100/1–2651)
  3. Not printed, but see footnote 2, Document 836.
  4. Ibid.
  5. This is a reference to the possibility of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers which was under discussion at the Four-Power Exploratory Talks in Paris.
  6. A more detailed account of Kennedy’s conversation with Tito was transmitted to the Department of State in despatch 553 from Belgrade, January 26. (033.1100/1–2651)