Memorandum of Conversation, by
the Chief of Protocol (Simmons)
- Farewell Call of the Yugoslav Ambassador on the President
- The President
- The Ambassador of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia
- John F. Simmons, Chief of Protocol
- Dr. Mirko Bruner, First Secretary of the Embassy, Interpreter
His Excellency Vladimir Popović, Ambassador of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, called, by appointment, on the President at 2 p.m. today for the stated purposes of (1) saying goodbye and (2) presenting to the President a bronze equestrian statue, an original of the larger one to be given later to the United Nations. Certain aspects of the conversation, as set forth below, seem to be worthy of particular note.
The Ambassador’s first point was an assurance of a continuation of the feeling of friendship by the Yugoslav Government and people toward the United States. He emphasized the point that this feeling is a very real one. He then stressed the gratitude of Yugoslavia for all the assistance, material and moral, which the United States had given to his country at a time of dire need. This, he said, would never be forgotten.
The President said that, although Americans do not favor Yugoslavia’s form of Government, the Ambassador must realize, from his four years here, that the American people are truly friendly and that this feeling applies in strong measure to Yugoslavia. He said that we appreciate particularly the brave action of Yugoslavia in showing its independence of the Soviet Sphere.
The Ambassador then said that this was true and that we could view with the utmost confidence the very real break from the Comintern which occurred in 1948. He described this as a real people’s movement, and said that the whole nation was solidly behind Marshal Tito in this action. He said that a recent manifestation of Yugoslavia’s being in the anti-Comintern group was its action in signing pacts of friendship and cooperation with Turkey and Greece. He then said that Yugoslavia would like to continue this policy further by taking similar action with Italy. Here the stumbling block had been the difficult Trieste question. At this point he [Page 381] somewhat emotionally described the efforts for conciliation on the part of his own country and the intransigeant attitude of Italy. He asked what could be more fair than Yugoslavia’s conceding the whole City of Trieste to Italy and only demanding certain areas and towns of pure Slavic population in Zone B. Yugoslavia, he said, places great importance on the amicable settlement of this thorny problem. He asked the President to mediate, if possible.
The President said that solving the Trieste problem is vital. If that could occur, he said, we would have a solid defense ring, starting with Turkey and Greece, and carried forward without a break through Italy. This, he said, would be a tremendous deterrent to Soviet aggression and would thus have great stabilizing influence on the world situation. He stood ready, at any time, to do anything he properly could to bring about a solution. He added that the problem is a two-way affair, and that both sides must approach it in a spirit of conciliation. We in America could not be expected to judge the rights and wrongs of each contentious point, but we could and would lend our good offices, where possible, to effect a solution through fair compromise. Such a solution, the President said, is very close to his heart and he hopes fervently that it can be reached through frank and conciliatory discussions by both parties.
The Ambassador then said that he had to bring up one more question, although he did so with some embarrassment. This was the continuance in the future of our aid to Yugoslavia in the form of two things (1) military assistance and (2) grants of wheat. These two questions were as important now as they ever were before, he said, and he hoped that they would be acted upon by us in the same generous spirit as previously.
The President said that the Ambassador could count on our continued friendship toward his country. The last question was of an intricate technical nature and would of course be studied sympathetically. The Ambassador mentioned that he would take this question up in more detail in his forthcoming conversation at the Department with General Smith.1 The President said that after this conversation had occurred he would call upon General Smith for a full discussion of it and that then the question of how to meet Yugoslavia’s wishes would be worked out with all possible regard to our wish to adopt both friendly and reasonable solutions.2
The Ambassador expressed himself as deeply appreciative of the President’s friendly reception and as a devoted friend of the American people as he returned to his own country.