750G.00/1–2754: Telegram

No. 164
The Ambassador in Yugoslavia (Riddleberger) to the Department of State1
top secret

898. Re Leverich letter January 14.2

Hopeful when Three-Power Conference agreed it could be utilized to alleviate Yugoslav Government impression that US-UK always inclined support Italian position and that conference would consider Yugo case an attempt to reach fair compromise in which Yugoslav Government could later claim it participated. This is fundamental political aspect which cannot be disregarded if we want settlement intended to remove Trieste friction in Italian-Yugoslav relations and to enable common defense planning to go forward.
Byington plan, if advanced initially, might defeat very purpose of conference as it provides for an ethnic solution of Italian claims in Zone B but fails to offer some ethnic solution for Slovenes in Zone A. In compensation for this disregard of ethnic principle applied to Zone B, plan offers only leased railroad and leased port facilities for Yugoslav Government in Zone A. This approach would [Page 368] certainly be regarded as having an Italian label and we strongly urge that it should not be advanced as an initial position.
Re port area, we are not certain from map precisely what is involved but are not hopeful that this proposal will appeal to Yugoslav Government which will probably want port of its own, particularly if territorial arrangements of Byington plan are pushed by US–UK. We believe here that for the future prosperity of Trieste, Yugoslav Government should be encouraged to make greater use of Trieste port facilities but do not believe they will do so under proposed leasing arrangements.
Strongly approve idea set forth in paragraph 3 of Byington plan and hope it will be advanced at some stage during conference.
I have been unable to obtain from Yugoslav Government officials any indication of how they will approach meeting. Bebler inquired whether we would come with fixed plan which we would urge to which I replied that basic idea of conference was to examine any proposals for a settlement and that we naturally hoped Yugoslav Government would come prepared to present its ideas. I am doubtful if we shall obtain indication of any Yugoslav Government proposals before conference as Bebler has not taken advantage of several opportunities to discuss these matters.
We are sending briefing book to London which includes comprehensive economic information.3
  1. Repeated for information to Trieste.
  2. Reference is to a letter from Leverich to Riddleberger, in which Leverich asked for comments on three attachments: (1) a letter of Jan. 8 from Holmes to Higgs, (2) a copy of a paper prepared by William E. Knight, Nov. 16, 1953, entitled “Suggested Territorial Adjustments Between Zone A and Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste” (these suggested adjustments were known as “the Byington Plan”), and (3) a draft memorandum from Barnett to Holmes, Jan. 8, regarding economic aspects of the Trieste situation. (Belgrade Embassy files, lot 56 F 166, “Memoranda & Letters”) Higgs’ response to Holmes’ letter of Jan. 8, with Knight’s paper and Barnett’s memorandum as attachments, was transmitted in telegrams 920 and 932 from Trieste, Jan. 19 and 22. (750G.00/1–1954 and 750G.00/1–2254)
  3. Riddleberger sent three copies of the briefing book on Trieste as enclosures with his letter of Feb. 3 to Thompson. A copy of this letter is in file 750G.00/2–354.