750G.00/5–2354: Telegram

No. 192
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State1
top secret

5289. Limit distribution. Pass Defense for Hensel and Lemnitzer. From Thompson. Realize more involved than Trieste negotiations and that I am not in position judge our policy vis-à-vis Yugoslavia but believe we must bring matters to a head and do not see why in face of outrageous Yugoslav attacks we should remain on defensive. Belgrade’s 378.2 Could we not by note or in Belgrade forcefully present following bill of particulars?

Yugoslavs have drug out negotiations for nearly four months. We would have good reason to believe they are deliberately playing for breakdown. At start of negotiations it was agreed that they would remain secret until concluded, yet to our certain knowledge a responsible Yugoslav official (Bebler) has deliberately and repeatedly informed members of diplomatic corps not to mention Tito’s public statement. Yugoslav Government must have been aware of extent to which such disclosures would make settlement more difficult. Early in negotiations Yugoslav representative stated his government realized settlement would become permanent but could not say so publicly because of effect on public opinion. Now after months of negotiation Yugoslavia reverses position based on statements Italian officials which they knew would be made and which they have provoked by deliberate leaks. What promises on definitive nature of settlement does Popovic refer? We are sticking to our willingness to make statement of non-support and to ourselves [Page 427] regard settlement as permanent. That is entirely different matter from our undertaking to make Italians sign and ratify statement that settlement is definitive which we never agreed to do. Text of declaration of non-support has been unchanged although we did refuse accept it as statement that settlement was final. Believe we should react vigorously to suggestion that we are acting under Italian pressure and make clear that despite Yugoslav bad faith, we have still not discussed either substance or procedure of settlement with Italians. If latter seems strong expression we could point out that we agreed give Yugoslavia additional economic aid on condition it not be connected to Trieste settlement yet Yugoslav Government and Tito in public statement have deliberately connected these matters. If this attempt at settlement now fails, fault will clearly be that of Yugoslav Government.

Recommend representations along these lines if Yugoslav reply not satisfactory.3

  1. Repeated for information to Rome, Belgrade, and Trieste.
  2. In telegram 378, May 22, Riddleberger described the démarche he had made that morning to Foreign Minister Popović requesting the Yugoslav Government to delay making any public announcement concerning further concrete developments toward a formal alliance among Yugoslavia, Greece, and Turkey, because the United States felt Italy would react strongly to such an announcement and it might upset the very delicate negotiations in London on the Trieste question. Riddleberger said that he had never seen Popović so upset. The Foreign Minister said the démarche was another example of U.S. policy being dictated by Italian desires. He asked in what way were vital Italian interests adversely affected by converting the Balkan entente into a military alliance which could only strengthen the Western system of defense on which Italy depended. Popović expressed extreme bitterness about the state of the London negotiations and complained that the U.S. and U.K. negotiators were again attempting to water down the definitive character of the settlement. Riddleberger recommended to the Department of State that, if it wanted to persuade Yugoslavia to delay any announcement regarding the Balkan Pact, it should make a determined effort to agree upon language which Yugoslavia could accept regarding the definitive aspect of the Trieste settlement. (760.5/5–2254)
  3. In telegram 3817 from Rome, May 24, Luce reported that she thoroughly agreed with Thompson’s views regarding what she called Popović’s “unsupportable” diatribe to Riddleberger. In view of the fact that the Trieste issue could explode in Italy at any moment, Luce advocated, among other things, a course of action in which the United States would abandon its role of fair-minded negotiators and become forceful arbiters of the Trieste question if Yugoslavia continued to give evidence of “deliberately trying to sabotage” any agreement in London. (750G.00/5–2454)