396.1 LO/10–1953: Telegram

No. 309
The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Foreign Ministers Conference to the Department of State 1
top secret priority

Secto 34. Limit distribution. Tripartite Foreign Ministers meeting, 11 a.m. October 18.

1. Recognition of Communist China:

Eden stated Selwyn Lloyd had requested guidance on recognition of Communist China and was instructed to take position that question is regulated by UN decision which postponed further consideration until end of this year. Eden added that he hoped there would be opportunity for three governments to discuss matter before that time.

2. Trieste:

Secretary stated we understood that three power representatives in Belgrade were pressing for decision on five power conference proposal. Agreed that Eden would send immediate telegram to Belgrade and Rome in name of three Foreign Ministers instructing representatives to request prompt reaction but not press for definite reply. This done.

Dixon reported on call by Italian Ambassador this morning who stated Pella examining proposal and that Italian Foreign Office had asked for certain clarifications. Emphasizing he was speaking purely personally, Dixon gave following replies:


Is agenda intended to be limited to those subjects mentioned paragraph two or could Italian representative introduce other subjects? (It was not clear whether Italians wished to expand or restrict agenda.)

Reply: Wording second paragraph not intended definitely exclude other subjects, but this should not be regarded as encouraging Italians to raise other questions.


Was it anticipated that Yugoslavs would participate at conference in discussion of arrangements for transfer of control?

Reply: Details of arrangements would be for discussion between three powers and Italians only.


Did last sentence paragraph one imply that timing of turnover was to be left open?

Reply: Sentence intended to carry a double meaning that timing fluid and at same time decision upheld.

Dixon said conversation rather complicated and Brosio connected questions 2 and 3 by asking if Yugoslavs could influence timing of [Page 714] turn-over by insisting on prior agreement on proposals re minorities, port facilities, et cetera. Finally, Brosio reminded Dixon that Pella had publicly said Italy would only attend conference after Italians had taken over Zone A and also noted that our proposal included no statement condemning Tito’s resort to threats of force.

Eden reported receipt of message from Belgrade stating first reaction unfavorable but definite reply expected later. Yugoslavs requested that communiqué should in no way allude to possibility of a conference and Mallet had reassured them on this.

Eden raised question of what should be done if Yugoslav and Italian reactions unfavorable. On military side, first steps toward evacuation already publicly taken and although Winterton’s detailed plan not available here, it is understood that decision to withdraw could be reversed without operational embarassment at any time prior to D–Day minus three weeks, i.e. November 9. If decision reversed after November 9, it would mean shipping supplies back into Zone A.

Eden said we had three courses: (1) Go ahead with decision, which is what Italians want but carries grave risk of bloodshed; (2) Reverse decision, which is what Tito wants but would have disastrous effect in Italy; (3) Try some other plan, which raises possibility Security Council action.

Secretary suggested exploring possibility of turning over administration to Italians but retaining out troops and not introducing Italian troops. He realized reluctance of military to face situation of divided responsibility but felt this course might prove to be least undesirable from over-all point of view. Bidault stated that if there was no detente there was great chance withdrawal would result in bloodshed and major incident and that he therefore approved Secretary’s idea. Eden said idea worth study but would put our garrisons in almost impossible position as Italians might act irresponsibly, provoking incidents with Slovenes, et cetera.

Some discussion local Zone A police force followed, it being pointed out that this force would probably not be reliable from Italian point of view as it is understood to be in favor of independence of Trieste or at least in reluctant to come under Italian authority.

Speaking from long-term point of view, Secretary said that all three governments are allied with Italians through NATO and, prospectively, EDC. We had hoped to reconcile this relationship with our beneficial relationship with Yugoslavia and its ties with Greece and Turkey. However, if Tito elects to attempt obtain immediate success by preventing implementation our Trieste decision, this matter will change US ideas of Tito’s reliability as an ally, thus resulting in change in our relationship with Yugoslavia, [Page 715] which would in turn have an effect on our military aid program, strategic discussions, et cetera.

Secretary said we had thought of delaying shipment of some military equipment to Yugoslavia but decided this could not be done without giving appearance of coercion; however, US would find it very difficult to go giving arms to Tito which he threatens to use to invade Zone A. Bidault and Eden agreed these factors demonstrate urgency of problem.

Eden proposed following procedure: British–American working party would be set up composed on American side of State and Defense representatives to work with British JC’s (to whom Winterton directly responsible). This group would attempt to work out feasible arrangements for turn-over administration Zone A to Italy, which at same time maintaining US–UK troops in Zone A. This group would work in liaison with another group of representatives of three Foreign Ministers which would consider political side of problem. Meanwhile we would await definite reactions from Rome and Belgrade on five power conference.

Bidault agreed. Secretary said he would be glad to recommend this proposal to Washington and attempt to get State and Defense representatives to London promptly. Some discussion of handling problem in UN followed and it was agreed that three governments would, when subject comes up October 20, propose at least one week adjournment on grounds that conversations proceeding. Bidault mentioned that Hoppenot was disturbed that Lodge was apparently planning engage in rather extensive discussion this subject. Bidault thought the less debate the better. There was some discussion of whether, if turn-over, of administration to Italians with continued maintenance US–UK troops proved feasible, we should make prompt announcement of our intention. Eden inclined in favor and Bidault against. It was agreed this is type of question which should be examined by working groups.

3. Communiqué:

Remainder of discussion devoted to communiqué. Agreement reached on text subject to further discussion at Churchill luncheon.2

  1. Repeated to Paris and to the U.S. Mission at the United Nations.
  2. For final text of the communiqué, issued by the Foreign Ministers on Oct. 18, see Department of State Bulletin, Oct. 26, 1953, p. 546.