750G.00/6–1454: Telegram

No. 207
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1
top secret

6791. Limit distribution. Following are Department’s tentative thoughts re general line US might take with Italians in further discussions. Our thinking stems in part from Luciolli’s question “What will be future position Italy if accepts proposed Trieste settlement?” (Deptel 66002) which was repeated in a later meeting with Department officials (Deptel 66393).

Italians have been doubtful their standing with us, and therefore their position in Western alliance, and offended by our increasing support for and growing friendship with Yugoslavia, particularly since we invited Yugos here for military talks. Has been ample evidence Italian Government increasingly persuaded itself it occupies inferior position US–UK policies, that is unfairly and unsympathetically treated and as result has lost confidence in previously firm pro-NATO and pro-European unity policies. If left alone to brood over these matters, Italian Government will only continue to flounder. Specific facet this problem has been our failure inform them results military talks with Yugoslavs after we had promised to do so which we believe has rankled and never been forgotten. Now, way in which first phase Trieste negotiations has finally evolved seems to have added to their suspicions about our relations with their old enemy Yugoslavia. Therefore we believe Luciolli’s repeated question is a fundamental consideration for the Italians at [Page 455] this time and reflects doubts about the basis of their post-war foreign policy of which major premise has been our friendship and support. Department believes Italian doubts reflected in Luciolli’s question should be answered during period of upcoming negotiations and that in answering it we should inject as warm friendly and reassuring tone as we use with any our other major allies. While affirmative US action on pending aid matters may be helpful and punitive withholding of aid would probably not produce desired results, more persuasive line with Italians, we believe, is broad gauge and long range in approach and one which stresses broad vista opening before Italy if it accepts Trieste solution.
Our line of thought has both negative and positive aspects.
On negative side we should make plain in our view surest way of Italy becoming second-rate power, as Italians profess to fear, is by short-sightedly and emotionally rejecting solution that very closely approximates one about which they expressed satisfaction immediately after October 8. They should appreciate that Balkan Alliance is in interests not only participants but Italy–US–UK, etc., that we refuse choose between Balkans and Italy and that alliance cannot be stopped or long delayed by Italian protests or refusal accept Trieste solution. Situation calls for realism, i.e., recognition this Trieste proposal (much less any better one) not likely be offered again. Moreover, there is no use pretending that failure present effort find solution Trieste problem, after the Yugoslavs have been brought to make concessions which however Italians characterize them are truly major from the Yugoslav point of view, would merely mean return to status quo. In fact, Italo-Yugoslav relations would surely be seriously worsened and strength free world this area would surely have deteriorated. For better or worse, and regardless tactics they may employ, Italians could not escape, in eyes free world, large and perhaps major share blame.
On positive side we must go further than general statements as to desirability improving Italo-Yugoslav relations and security southern Europe through burying of old grievances in face Soviet communist threat to all. US attitude should be fully and frankly to discuss Italian problems and future.
US should reiterate importance it attaches to position Italy in NATO, EDC, CSC, etc., and conviction that those organizations constitute core US policy in Europe and for Italy as best hope future peace and security of both.
In contrast with deterioration Italy’s position we foresee if Trieste settlement not reached, we should emphasize vastly improved Italian position in free world and great opportunities we foresee for Italy if settlement is accepted (granting that Italy’s acceptance must be provisional in the sense that Italy is not prevented from future peaceful negotiations to improve its position). Proof that [Page 456] Italy and Yugo could end their bitter feud would be such striking and constructive recognition of realities of world situation that it could have healthiest effect throughout entire Western world. Confronted as it is today with difficulties in Europe, Asia and elsewhere and showing signs of internal divisions, the Free World would receive a tremendous fillip and Soviet ambitions definite set back from such clear evidence that Free World is able deal with own problems. In fact Italy has opportunity cooperate in making momentous contribution that may well be turning point in joint effort build strong front against Kremlin and therefore of greatly enhancing Italy’s prestige both in US and elsewhere. Implications of failure find mutual accommodation among Western powers, which should by geography, strategy, and tradition be close partners, would seriously encourage Soviet expansionism and reduce will resist it.
So as further raise Italy’s sights and put actual circumstances Trieste problem in proper perspective, we should indicate what we see as specific likely benefits once Trieste hurdle gotten over. EDC ratification would become more readily obtainable and with greater majority. Italy would be in position, should it desire, enter Balkan Alliance under circumstances enhancing Italy’s prestige. Resulting strengthened Scelba Government having satisfactorily disposed most pressing international problems would then be in position move forward toward solution its internal problems with renewed determination and promise success. Ability obtain passage legislation for social and economic reforms would be enhanced as would be capacity Government carry out own anti-communist program. Without our openly saying so Scelba should be able see that greater popular support would then seem reasonable to expect.
Two specific steps Italians might find reassuring are:
We could renew our promise inform Italians results our military talks with Yugoslavs last summer along lines brief informal résumé we gave Greeks and Turks as soon as Trieste settlement has removed possibility military action between Italy and Yugoslavia. In this connection we should remind Italians that reason for long standing security this subject has been Italo-Yugoslav discord which had even involved threatened troop movements. We should hold out to Italians a post-Trieste settlement future in which such secrecy no longer necessary but quite contrary would require closest cooperation such subjects.
We would show readiness discuss with Italians possibly in Paris between two NAC representatives our views concerning NATO interests in Balkan military alliance (Deptel 6400 to London4).
Department also considering at appropriate time usefulness of President or Secretary sending letter to Prime Minister or to Piccioni couched in friendliest terms referring to many ties which exist between Italy and US, our community of interests, common [Page 457] cultural heritage, etc., and appealing to his statesmanship and profound understanding world situation to reach a Trieste settlement in Italy’s own long-range interest as well as interests European and world security.
Your and Rome’s comments will be appreciated. Uses of foregoing depend in part on developments but London and Rome may wish employ general tenor in immediate situations that may arise with all influential Italians. What are Rome’s views re use line in II above with deGasperi when terms proposal become known to him?
  1. Drafted by Hooker and Freund and cleared with Jones, Thurston, Palmer (RA) in draft, and Barbour. Repeated for information to Rome, Paris, Belgrade, and USPolAd Trieste. The basic approach described in the telegram was suggested by Freund in a memorandum of June 9 to Jones. (750G.00/6–954)
  2. Telegram 6600 reported on the conversation between Merchant and Luciolli on June 5; see Document 202. (750G.00/6–554)
  3. Telegram 6639 indicated that the Department of State had been informed by the Italian Embassy that instructions had gone from Rome to the Italian Ambassador in Belgrade to ask his U.S.–U.K.–French colleagues to avoid “leaks” to the press on the Trieste negotiations. (750G.00/6–854)
  4. Same as telegram 3364 to Athens; see footnote 3, Document 342.