750G.00/3–2554: Telegram

No. 177
The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State 1
top secret

3527. Limited distribution. From Luce. In reply to your Deptel 3285 to Paris,2 would like to make following points:

Essential differences between Trieste settlement as currently proposed in London and October 8 are as follows:
October 8, if implemented, would have given Italians territorial parity from which to negotiate reparations, Zone A coastal strip, etc., against Zone B hinterland, port facilities, etc. From Italian point of view territorial parity which left remainder FTT questions open to negotiation was wholly acceptable springboard for subsequent negotiating between two sovereign nations.
If such negotiation had been long protracted or even failed neither US, UK or Italian Government would have borne onus in eyes of Italian public opinion, an invaluable and necessary argument for any Italian Government defending EDC or other pro-West policies against nationalistic or pro-Kremlin opposition.
Current conditions in which present settlement is proposed as basis of negotiations with Yugoslavs not only deprives Italians of initial territorial parity promised by October 8, thereby curtailing greatly their negotiating advantage but gives them no assurances that territorial parity will ever be forthcoming if London negotiations fail, which may be all too likely, if settlement is made contingent on agreement on reparations with Yugoslavs.
I believe it is important from US point of view to remember that if actual negotiations begun on current settlement in London do fail, then US, UK and Italian Governments will be given all the blame by Italian public opinion for following:
London talks would be viewed as US, UK, Yugoslav trap sprung on Italians in order (a) to avoid October 8, (b) to impose a substitute US, UK, Yugoslav settlement, far short of March 20 and even October 8, (c) then to blame the Italians for being “unreasonable” in not accepting it, (d) Italian public opinion would view any Scelba acceptance to negotiate Yugoslav proposals [Page 392] at London as betrayal of Italian interests in view of fact that Italian position as laid down by Pella has been clear and consistent on two points:
While not precluding talks or soundings with US paralleling Yugoslav talks, Italians refused to begin to negotiate Trieste question unless implementation has begun, or
Unless a firm date had previously been given for October 8 in event negotiations failed.
Do not think that Italians will abandon this position at least at a technical or verbal level. That is why it is important to invite them to London in spirit of hearing report and presenting their case—in short as repetition of Yugoslav exercise. That they would go as potential negotiations is implicit in acceptance but from government point of view cannot be explicit.

In conclusion, I believe two things are necessary to successful outcome of matter now:

That invitation to Italians to London should be extended in form of final sounding of Italian opinion on Yugoslav soundings, in short repetition of exercise. This would not preclude substantive negotiations after Italians got there, but it would take Italian Government off hook of being accused of accepting negotiations without any assurances on October 8, a thing they have consistently feared and refused.
That we should decide what we intend to do about October 8 if London talks with Italians come to nothing conclusive or acceptable.

In my opinion if this happened we should then be prepared to present to both governments our own solution for the Trieste question which we believed should be acceptable to both as a substitute for October 8 and at the same time present them with a firm date line for implementing October 8 if our solution should not prove acceptable to either government. We should also tell them that in the event October 8 were preferable from either an Italian or Yugoslav point of view, so far as US and UK go, it would be final.

It seems to me that we must be in a position soon to offer both governments an “either-or” choice on the Trieste question.

  1. Repeated for information to Rome.
  2. Supra .