750G.00/10–753: Telegram

No. 125
The Ambassador in Italy (Luce) to the Department of State1
top secret

1157. Limit distribution. I met with Pella who sent for me this morning at 11:30. He pointed out that he had staked his own and government’s position on assurances that he would work for return of entire FTT to Italy. I told him that he must by now realize this was unrealistic. He replied that he would be judged by his intentions rather than the final results and that he would gladly accept any forthcoming proposal of my government which allowed him to say that he had accepted a “provisional” proposal which permitted him to work out with Tito the remaining problems in spirit of tripartite declaration. I indicated that our proposal was not explicitly provisional nor explicitly non-provisional but would be subject to interpretation. Pella asked if Tito interprets it as final and he (Pella) interprets it as provisional, which interpretation will the Allies say is the right one? He then said that he hoped that the proposal would not result in Tito’s annexing Zone B and asked if I thought it would. I said that as the present crisis had begun by Italian fear that the Yugoslavs would do just that it would be even more of a possibility after the proposal. He asked would our governments support such a move. I replied that we certainly hoped Tito would do nothing to prejudice an ultimate solution of Italian-Yugoslav relations. He said that if Tito annexed Zone B and if the UK–US did not protest annexation Italian public opinion would consider the whole démarche as a plan to bring about this very act. He emphasized repeatedly need for some provisional character in our proposals that would make it possible for him to accept without being open to charge that he had agreed in advance to Zone A–Zone B settlement.

I replied that proposal is now settled (Deptel 1182, October 62) but I believe that it is important to point out that, as it now stands, plan is substantially the same British de facto Zone A–Zone B settlement which has long been and will still be unacceptable to Italian public opinion. By failing to tell gist of entire proposal secretly to Pella in order he might realize that one part of solution is provisional but that definitive solution must be worked out in reasonable time, we may now find it as difficult as previously to conclude [Page 297] facilities negotiations and other Italo-American problems which our original plan would have facilitated. Pella emphasized Italian Government and public opinion will certainly take attitude that British view has prevailed and, while Trieste question will be settled by imposition, the repercussions may not be favorable to our own basic interests. I hope we will recognize the adverse reaction in Italian opinion if Tito should annex Zone B and then publicly state he had done so on private assurances from US and UK that we had no objections, no matter what we may say about Italian annexation of Zone A.

In later conversation, high Foreign Office official stated that if Tito annexed Zone B, Italy would not annex Zone A, since if Italy should take this step it would be interpreted that the government has acquiesced at this time in a final Zone A–Zone B solution. Official emphasized need for labelling solution “provisional” rather than “de facto” since latter word implied a permanent solution which required only formal approval at a later time. He stated that Italian Embassy London had received definite impression that our proposal would be more or less definitive.

  1. Repeated for information to London and Belgrade eyes only for the Ambassadors.
  2. Document 123.