750G.00/10–653: Telegram

No. 124
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Yugoslavia1
top secret

381. Eyes only Chargé. US-UK Governments have agreed upon presentation of their plan for Trieste along following lines which should be made orally and jointly to Tito with your British colleague. You should request immediate appointment with Tito and as soon as appointment set notify Embassy Rome at once in order that approach to Pella can be made on same day.2

US and UK have for many years jointly and separately endeavored to promote a negotiated Trieste settlement acceptable to both Yugoslavia and Italy. The most recent proposals of Yugoslavia and Italy have met respectively with rejection by the other side and a mutually agreed solution still appears impossible. This situation has become intolerable and we are not prepared to permit it any longer to poison our relations with Yugoslavia and Italy and jeopardize policies of fundamental importance to the four governments and indeed to all Western Europe.
As the Yugoslav Government has frequently been told, and most recently in tripartite military talks just concluded, we are convinced that our military relations with Yugoslavia have reached the point where to permit further progress in planning and programming it is imperative that Trieste situation be stabilized.
In the circumstances the two governments have decided to hand over the administration of Zone A to the Italian Government. They hope by this action to bring about a situation which will relax the present tension between Italy and Yugoslavia and make possible friendly cooperation between them in a wide field. The US and UK Governments are today approaching the Italian Government along parallel lines. You should at this point inform him that a joint US–UK statement will be issued at (time to be given Embassies later), copy of which you should hand him for his advance information.3
You should add that in taking this step both Governments are aware that it constitutes a de facto settlement and it is their intention [Page 295] that this de facto settlement will actually become final. Neither the Yugoslav nor the Italian Government however will be requested by the US and the UK to adhere formally to this interpretation. Should either the Italian or the Yugoslav Government later wish to initiate bilateral negotiations with a view to the modification of boundaries the US and UK Governments would not intervene in behalf of either party and the Italian Government is being advised accordingly.
We have based our policies towards Yugoslavia on considerations of hard-headed realism which has brought benefits to both sides. We feel entitled to expect that President Tito will understand the need for equal realism on his part. We understand that he has a problem with respect to his public position. It is however essential that any reaction on his part should not extend to military action against Italy or Zone A, since this would endanger the policies which we have followed toward Yugoslavia and which we are anxious to continue.
(FYI Purpose of this conversation would be to ascertain, without specifically asking him, what Tito will do when faced with turnover of Zone A to Italians and to lead him, again without specifically suggesting it, to volunteer assurance that he will take no military action.)
If Tito reacts immediately by saying he will annex Zone B you will inform him that we would not protest his annexation of Zone B nor if Italy thereafter annexed Zone A would we protest. At this point you should also point out to Tito that annexation of Zone B would not initially require movement of military forces but only administrative action.
If Tito reveals his intention to annex you should seek assurance that Yugoslavia would give guarantees regarding minorities and civil rights along lines Art. 4 of permanent FTT statute. Should Tito indicate that he will not annex Zone B the same assurances regarding minorities and civil rights should be requested on the grounds they are being requested of Italy in Zone A.
If notwithstanding above démarche, Tito indicates he will take military action, the US and UK representatives would inform him that they would have to report to their governments. They should also emphasize the seriousness with which their governments will view Tito’s reaction.
  1. Drafted by Nes and William E. Knight and cleared with Barbour, Byington, and Bonbright; repeated for information to London, Paris, Rome, and Moscow eyes only for the Ambassadors, and to Trieste eyes only for the Political Adviser.
  2. The instructions to Rome concerning the approach to be made to Pella were contained in telegram 1182, Oct. 6, supra.
  3. The text of this statement was sent to Belgrade in telegram 382, Oct. 6. (750G.00/10–653)