No. 122
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant)
top secret


  • The President
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Merchant, EUR

The Secretary went over with the President the general contents of our agreed draft instructions to Rome and Belgrade.1 He quoted Mr. Eden’s message2 in substantial part and described the means whereby we had achieved a compromise agreement with the British. The Secretary also described the plan for a public statement by the US and UK Governments immediately after the interviews with Pella and Tito.3 It was also noted that these interviews we hoped would be held on Thursday of this week.4 Finally, the Secretary stated that Admiral Radford had informed him that our Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the course of action we are embarked upon, but said that the UK and US Chiefs will have to reach agreement in detail on the exact instructions to General Winterton for [Page 292] the turnover. The President expressed surprise that Winterton’s first estimate of the time required was three months, and thought that it could be done and should be done in a shorter period.

The President approved the plan for action as contained in the draft instructions, and then went on to say that he thought that the Secretary should interest himself in the disposition of the US forces now in Trieste. He said he recognized that we were moving on this matter with a view to establishing in the coming months an atmosphere in which the Italians and the Yugoslavs could cooperate amicably in the defense of what is NATO’s right flank.

He said, however, that in the immediate future when we could expect fulminations on both sides, the weakness in that area was such as to give CINCEUR understandable concern. The President said he believed that the possibilities should be explored of holding together the US force when it moved out of Trieste, and arranging with the Italian Government to have it established in Northern Italy somewhere, possibly entering the barracks of the Italian forces which would move into Trieste at the time of the turnover. The Secretary said that he would follow this matter closely. He commented on the projected reduction in forces of both the French and British in Austria and the fact that he had called in both their Ambassadors to protest and to attempt to secure a reversal of these Governments’ decisions.5

  1. The instructions were contained in telegram 1182 to Rome, infra, and in Document 124.
  2. Presumably a reference to Eden’s message of Oct. 3 to the British Embassy in Washington, quoted in the editorial note, supra.
  3. For text of the public statement released on Oct. 8, see Document 130.
  4. Oct. 8.
  5. Regarding this meeting, which took place on Sept. 29, see vol. vii, Part 2, p. 1904.