396.1 PA/4–4254: Telegram

No. 187
The Secretary of State to the Department of State1

Secto 12. Limit distribution. Italian Foreign Minister Piccioni called on me this morning. Following is résumé of our talk: Piccioni said he wished to explain to me briefly and very frankly the Italian situation.


Trieste. Trieste is Italian Government’s greatest single problem. It is highly emotional question and vitally affects not only Italian action re EDC but future internal developments in Italy. Italian Government has introduced EDC into parliament but favorable parliamentary action not possible unless Trieste settled. If there is a favorable solution to Trieste or a clearly defined indication that a definite solution is in offing, Italian Government can count on additional support for EDC, particularly from Monarchists. [Page 417] Also Trieste solution will deprive both Communists and political right of a propaganda weapon against EDC.

Greek-Turk-Yugoslav-Balkan Pact. Desire to transform this Balkan Pact into a military alliance is viewed with extreme gravity by Italian Government. Piccioni purposely refrained from raising this at April 23 NAC meeting. However, trend toward tripartite Balkan military alliance has two serious aspects:
It will deeply affect NATO because such an alliance by two NATO members with a non-NATO member may indirectly involve other NATO members in commitments or course of action over which they have no control. Therefore, this is matter for NATO consideration.
Italy will never give its consent in NATO to the extension of the Balkan friendship treaty into a military alliance until Italy’s relationship with Yugoslavia has been normalized. Italy holds that without NATO approval, Greece and Turkey are not free to make such military alliance. However it goes without saying that once relations between Italy and Yugoslavia are normalized, Italy would do everything it could to strengthen the defenses of this area.
Anti-Communist Action by Italian Government. The Italian Government has recently taken steps for more active struggle against communism. This effort is most important but government should not have to fight on two fronts, that is, both the Communists and increased unemployment at the same time. An increase in unemployment from lower offshore procurement would make government’s position extremely difficult. Italian Government understands that anti-Communist action would have good effect on US opinion, but present anti-Communist campaign will not pay off immediately. In other words, Italy needs medicine in form of offshore procurement while it is still sick and not after it has recovered from its illness.

Piccioni and Scelba would like very much to see the Secretary and hoped he could come to northern Italy to meet with him during his stay at Geneva.

The Secretary replied to above presentation as follows:

He was glad that NAC meeting afforded him opportunity of frank exchange of views with Piccioni. US does not regard Trieste as minor problem; it is major problem and receives constant attention at highest level, including President. Secretary believed considerable progress made in talks with Yugoslavs and now possibility of a solution which, while not altogether what Italian Government would like, nonetheless, would give large measure of satisfaction to Italy’s legitimate aspirations. He hoped at an early date we would be in position to talk with Italian Government about this.
Re Balkan Pact. Secretary agreed it was wise not to raise this matter in NAC. He had let our view in this respect be known to other governments which had queried us whether it would be fruitful [Page 418] to discuss Balkan Pact in NAC April 23 meeting. As general observation, US did not believe effective military planning in this area could proceed successfully without settlement of Trieste and normalized relations between Italy and Yugoslavia.
Re Offshore Procurement. Secretary said he was not in a position to discuss this. It is a matter which has been given much thought by Defense, FOA and State, but Secretary was not fully familiar with most recent detailed aspects of problem.
Secretary asked Piccioni to express his sincere thanks to P.M. Scelba and to inform him he would like opportunity to meet with him in northern Italy for at least a few hours. In light of Geneva, he could not make definite commitment but would keep in touch with Italians through Ambassador Luce.

Piccioni said he had one word to add. He knew US recognizes importance of early solution re Trieste, but because of this urgency Italy did not wish to be confronted with a request for direct negotiations between Italy and Yugoslavia. They had in past unfortunate experiences with direct talks and any exclusively bilateral negotiations would have no chance of successful conclusion.

  1. Repeated for information to Rome, Ankara, Athens, Belgrade, and Geneva. The portion of this telegram which dealt with Trieste was also summarized in telegram 5656 to London, Apr. 26. (750G.00/4–2654)