The Ambassador in Yugoslavia
(Riddleberger) to the Chief United States
Negotiator in London (Thompson)
Dear Tommy : I find with regret that I have never replied to your letter of February 142 which arrived while I was away but which I read upon my return about the middle of March. I was happy to hear that the briefing books turned out to be of some use to you, and I hope they justified my insistence with the staff here that they be compiled. I had a feeling that your documentation from the Department would not be anything to cheer about and that the time might well come when you would require more detailed information. I had hoped the Department would let me send Woodie 3 just at the outset to fill you in, particularly as he always had a clear grasp of the essentials of this problem from the Belgrade end.
We were delighted to hear about the birth of your daughter and send many congratulations. Woodie told me only yesterday that Jane4 has gone to England and so I hope you will have something of a family reunion. Inasmuch as we negotiated here almost steadily for three months over the possibility of getting a conference, I cannot confess to any surprise at the amount of time which the London talks require. On the other hand, we more or less invited this lengthy negotiation by our own insistence that all possibilities of a settlement should be explored. Like yourself, I still feel that the Yugoslavs want a settlement, but they will certainly extract everything they can. Yesterday’s developments were a good case in point. The British instructions did not arrive until late and so our meeting with Bebler was at his house in the evening.5 Shattock [Page 408] and I did our best, but I should say that Bebler was all too well prepared to deal with the Dulles–Eden message. It must not be forgotten that here the top officials live, breathe and sleep with Trieste. It is a problem that for them is of paramount importance and on which they think both we and the British are pro-Italian. They will, therefore, try to extract from us every conceivable concession, and I have never thought that any sort of general appeals from even very high sources will evoke large concessions. I think every point will be fought over bitterly until they have gotten what they consider to be the last drop of juice. I think reparations is a good case of this, and there is no point in the Department making optimistic assumptions that have no basis in fact. On the question of the necessity for speed, I doubt if the Yugoslavs are the least bit impressed as negotiations in one form or another have been going on for years. They can also read the papers and find out that British and American dependents are returning to Trieste. In other words, we advance on this problem through a series of tough exchanges on every point, and I see no reason to assume that this will change in the near future. You will probably have observed from my message of late last night how ingenious the Yugoslavs are in face of the Dulles–Eden message. The Yugoslavs know quite well that unless the reparations question is settled simultaneously with Trieste that they will probably never get one thin dime from the Italians. This, I can only add, is probably highly realistic on their part. I hope we made some progress on minorities last night but that you will find out soon enough in London.
With sympathetic regards and the hope that some day you may see Vienna again,
- Riddleberger also sent a copy of this letter to Hooker.↩
- Not printed. (750G.00/2–1454)↩
- Woodruff Wallner.↩
- Jane Thompson.↩
- At this meeting Wallner and the British Counselor of Embassy delivered the Eden–Dulles communication to Acting Foreign Minister Bebler. In the conversation which ensued, Bebler said that he was struck by the impression apparently gained by Eden and Dulles that Yugoslavia was creating major difficulties in the London negotiations, a view with which Bebler strongly disagreed. He also said that the Yugoslav Government had been deeply disappointed in the amount proposed for the financing of the new port and had hoped for adequate financial assistance in the amount of $55 million, especially in light of the Eisenhower–Popović conversation on Mar. 11 (see Document 173). Bebler indicated further that Yugoslavia wished to have direct Yugoslav-Italian negotiations on the question of reparations and that Yugoslavia would press for a lump-sum settlement. There was also brief discussion of the minority question and other matters. The question of San Servola did not come up. This conversation was described in telegram 1117 from Belgrade, Apr. 13. (750G.00/4–1354)↩