750G.00/7–1354: Telegram

No. 224
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State1
top secret

229. Limit distribution. Pass Defense for Hensel and Lemnitzer. From Thompson. In view of attitude Velebit, who normally has maintained calmer attitude than his superiors, believe we must be prepared for explosion in Belgrade. While Riddleberger will doubtless wish avoid being drawn into discussion details, following arguments and suggestions may be helpful. Essential point for Italians is reasonable modification of line and I believe we should concentrate on this point since some form of compromise possible on nearly all other points. Yugoslavs likely repeat they had already gone limit of concessions. While we have carried out our agreement to support strongly with Italians line proposed by Yugoslavs we [Page 478] were careful in discussing line with Velebit to make clear that we had to be in position to take account of Italians arguments and made clear we were not experts on area concerned. In order play down extent our commitment re specific line Harrison and I had our assistants work out with Primozic the detailed drawing of the line. Italians have strong case for Lazaretto and small basin to south and east as it is inhabited chiefly by Italians. Even under Italians proposals Yugoslavs get back some 2,400 Slovenes and would give up only 150. Yugoslavs get a number of villages they can talk about whereas Yugoslavs proposals would not give Italians a single village. Would be tragic if such important issues broke down on question 150 people who could certainly be resettled if necessary. Emphasis, however, should be on coastal area. If Yugoslavs unwilling give up even 150 people, how can they expect Italians to give up much greater number of their nationals in addition to large number of Slovenes. Suggest general line should be we consider Italian proposals reasonable but are willing to attempt meet any legitimate Yugoslav considerations.

Velebit emphasized that present proposal is virtually October 8, without the offsetting eating crow by the Italians which would have helped Yugoslavs sell solution to Slovenes. Italians have in fact made concessions re cultural homes, etc.

Yugoslavs may use case to squeeze further economic aid. In this connection we are prepared press Italians to very substantial reparations payment if only reasonable modification of line accepted.

Velebit admitted that outstanding issues are in themselves small and believe we would do well stress that with so much at stake we cannot understand holding out on what is really question of a few acres.

Although I believe Italians could be brought to drop demand for fisheries agreement, but only at cost of reduced reparations, if Yugoslavs press this we might draw attention to inconsistency their pressing us desperately for further aid and refusing this possibility of assistance.

In view likelihood we will have to make direct appeal to Tito to close gap, would urge strongly we endeavor to avoid unilateral approach to Tito on Balkan alliance if this can be avoided.

  1. Repeated for information to Belgrade, Rome, and Trieste.