396.1 LO/10–1653: Telegram

No. 295
The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Foreign Ministers Conference to the Department of State1
top secret

Secto 4. Tripartite, morning October 16, section one of two2—Trieste. Tripartite Foreign Ministers meeting this morning started with consideration of Trieste. Secretary explained that we are in the dark re Yugoslav intentions; that we anticipated more trouble with Italy than with Yugoslavia and that violent Yugoslav reaction may perhaps be due to lack of consultation which made Tito appear to his public to have been treated cavalierly by US and UK. In recent conversation, Yugoslav Foreign Minister gave Secretary impression that Yugoslavia may in fact move troops into Zone A if Italian troops enter that Zone but if made clear zonal division is final and if Tito able to save face, he may accept settlement. Secretary then tentatively suggested that we might consider desirability of a four or five-power conference provided we do not abandon our original decision3 and provided it does not cause fall of Pella government. If such conference were considered practicable, it might be advisable for us to take preliminary soundings in Belgrade and [Page 693] either concurrently or very soon thereafter in Rome. Such conference could discuss minority guarantees, port arrangements, etc., and even minor territorial adjustments, although latter could probably better be omitted and left for bilateral settlement. Secretary added that Yugoslav Foreign Minister had told him that Yugoslavs wanted conference arranged before any substantive Security Council discussion in order prevent Russians from muddying waters.

Secretary emphasized to Yugoslav Foreign Minister that basic motive of US–UK action was to strengthen Yugoslav association with West by removing problem of Trieste which was rock upon which past efforts in this direction have always broken. This point should be strongly reiterated in any further approaches in Belgrade.

Eden agreed that conference might be desirable and agreed it should be based on fact that zonal division represents final settlement. Eden thought ambiguity re finality is main reason for current Yugoslav violent reaction. He agreed that conference should probably not consider minor territorial readjustments. He added his opinion that present Russian manoeuvres are primarily intended to embarrass Tito on home front by emphasizing that his false Western allies have let him down. Re conversations with Tito, Eden stated he discussed problem with Tito4 at great length and ended by suggesting that if Zone A–Zone B solution were imposed, it could probably be accepted by Yugoslavia. This Tito did not deny and Eden has impression that Tito himself not so rigid as some of his advisers. Eden added that this conversation was some months ago and that situation had changed in meantime. Eden concluded by proposing that problem be referred to experts who would make recommendations within framework that decision to withdraw from Zone A must be adhered to but that implementation could be stretched out and that conference could discuss minority guarantees and similar questions to make the action more palatable to Yugoslavia.

Bidault thought conference might be advantageous but doubted that framework proposed by Eden would prove practicable although suggested experts might come up with feasible recommendations. He doubted that Italians would consent to conference without firm assurances as to its results and believed that we would probably have to entice Italian participation with partial implementation of turnover Zone A to Italy.

In brief discussion of mechanics withdrawal it was pointed out that US–UK military considered it unacceptable to retain troops after administration handed over to Italians and that phased withdrawal [Page 694] was already in effect with evacuation of dependents, but that we had approximately one month’s grace before any troops would move.

With reference to emphasis on finality of Zone A–Zone B partition, as stated in Eden’s suggested terms of reference for experts, the Secretary commented that this point very tricky, and that we would probably have to keep open possibility of bilaterally agreed modifications.

Eden stressed necessity of absolute secrecy in view of highly sensitive nature of matter discussed.5

  1. Repeated to Belgrade and Rome.
  2. For section two, see Secto 5, infra.
  3. Under reference is the decision, announced on Oct. 8 by the United States and the United Kingdom, to remove their troops from Zone A.
  4. Presumably Eden is referring to his visit to Belgrade in September 1952.
  5. At the end of the tripartite meeting during the morning of Oct. 17 (see Sectos 19 and 23, Documents 304 and 305) Eden proposed, and Secretary Dulles agreed, that the actual withdrawal of troops from Zone A should not be initiated without specific orders from the two governments because of the situation which had developed since the Oct. 8 announcement. (Secto 11 from London, Oct. 17, 396.1 LO/10–1753)