No. 847

768.5–MAP/1–3151: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

4198. Cheetham told Embassy officer today that Milovan Djilas, currently on visit to London,2 has made direct Yugoslav arms request [Page 1714] to Attlee and Sir Andrew Noble, Assistant Under Secretary of State. Djilas spoke of Yugoslav desire for certain arms, machinery, raw materials and license rights for manufacture arms. Request was couched in general terms without indication amount or specific nature of material Yugoslavs envisaged. Djilas indicated Yugoslavs would expect to finance purchases through some form long-term credit. He suggested that if foregoing were agreeable in principle Yugoslavs would send “military and other experts” to UK for detailed discussions. He stressed importance Yugoslavs attached to unobtrusive discussions on and furnishing of any such aid. Djilas added that Yugoslav need for arms had already been placed informally before US; he said he himself had seen Parodi in Paris to give similar indication to French Government.

Foreign Office checked with informed French officials here who report that Djilas remarks to Parodi3 were so vague as not to give French Government impression he was making informal government level request for arms. Moreover, Foreign Office which has been informed substance Ambassador Allen’s recent talks with Tito and Kardelj4 is aware that Yugoslavs do not appear to have “placed informal request for arms before US Government”.

Cheetham states that Prime Minister and Noble gave completely non-committal responses to Djilas approach. Matter is now under consideration by various elements British Government concerned. Embassy believes preliminary Foreign Office reaction will be along lines Deptel 3563, January 29 (sent Belgrade 739, repeated Paris 3961)5 i.e. to tell Yugoslavs that if they will be more specific about their needs and requests it will be easier to come to agreement in principle as to how they might be met.6 Accordingly Embassy urgently recommends formal transmittal to Foreign Office of substance reference telegram immediately.

  1. Repeated to Paris and Belgrade.
  2. Yugoslav Minister Without Portfolio, Milovan Djilas, privately visited Paris and London in late January and early February. In his telegram 1028, February 5, Ambassador Allen expressed the suspicion that Djilas was conducting talks with extreme left-wing members of the British Labor Party which were not being reported to British governmental authorities. Allen added:

    Djilas and Vlado Dedijer, who is accompanying him as aide and translator, are both intriguers, dogmatic Marxists, and suspicious of all bourgeois governments. I regard them as among the more sinister figures of present regime, although Djilas has taken pains to try to convince me he is leading CPY towards west orientation.” (768.00/2–551)

  3. For Parodi’s comment on his conversation with Djilas in Paris, see Bonbright’s memorandum of conversation, infra.
  4. For a summary of these conversations, see telegram 956 from Belgrade, Document 836.
  5. Document 844.
  6. Telegram 4246 from London, February 2, reported that Prime Minister Attlee had seen Djilas that afternoon and replied to his approach about arms assistance along the lines of telegram 739 to Belgrade. Attlee informed Djilas that in order for the British Government to consider the Yugoslav request, it would be necessary to have lists of the Yugoslav requirements, together with an indication of desired priorities and other data. (768.56/2–251)