Eisenhower Library, Dulles papers, Meetings with the President

No. 107
Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant)
top secret
personal and private

I discussed with the President at some length the Trieste situation. I got the impression that he felt the Administration was swinging a little too far in favor of Yugoslavia. He indicated that military prejudice in favor of Yugoslavia was not justified. He remarked [Page 268] that Italy had not really had a chance in the last two wars to show what it could do when it was committed to a cause in which it really believed.

The President suggested that we might send a message to Pella—whom the President knows personally and rates highly—to the general effect that our purpose is to help Europe, rather than any particular country in Europe; that we feel that some settlement of the Trieste issue of vital importance, but that the U.S. is not in any way disposed to impose a solution which would be inimical to the best interests of Italy, or which would damage Italy.

The President was agreeable to a Zone A–Zone B solution, with safeguards for minorities, provided that it could be made acceptable to Italy and Yugoslavia. He suggested that the possibility be explored that we might get Yugoslavia and Italy to agree upon some form of arbitration by the U.S.-U.K.-France, and perhaps Western Germany, with the knowledge on both sides in advance that a Zone A–Zone B system would be adopted.1

John Foster Dulles
  1. In his memoirs, Eisenhower referred to a lengthy conversation regarding Trieste which he had with Secretary Dulles early in September 1953, in which he expressed his preference for some form of partition of the Free Territory of Trieste. The President, however, had felt that it would be impossible to amend the Italian Peace Treaty of 1947 to achieve partition, because the Soviet Union, as a signatory of the treaty, would have been in such a position to block such an amendment. Eisenhower recalled that it had seemed at that time that the solution of the Trieste issue lay in some informal device to recognize and make permanent the existing boundaries between Zones A and B. (Mandate for Change, p. 413)