750G.00/9–1554: Telegram

No. 272
The Ambassador in Yugoslavia (Riddleberger) to the Department of State 1
top secret

213. Limit distribution. Defense pass to Hensel and Lemnitzer. Pass FOA for Stassen. From Murphy. Re: Embtel 209.2

Discussions with Yugoslav Government opened this morning in meeting with Bebler, Riddleberger and myself. I explained the general purpose of my trip and informed him that in addition to such economic subjects as aid and wheat, I proposed to discuss general political problems and in particular Trieste.
As I was seeing Vice President Tempo immediately after, I did not spend much time on wheat and aid and my discussions with Tempo are reported separately.3
Re Trieste, I indicated the President’s and Secretary’s direct interest in this matter, made reference to the lengthy negotiations that have taken place and emphasized necessity of a rapid solution. Bebler seemed to receive favorably my suggestion that to achieve prompt solution of Trieste question requires that it be placed on higher level of broader political considerations involved in European collective security. I emphasized importance President and Secretary attach to statesmanlike gesture by Tito and Yugoslav Government. Bebler seemed impressed by argument that larger Yugoslav interests especially enhancement Yugoslav relationship to US in hard economic road facing Yugoslavia are involved. He asserted Yugoslavia every bit as desirous prompt settlement as US—hinted I should avoid any suggestion Yugoslavs could be bought off by economic aid or pressure and I assured this farthest from our thoughts. I was at some pains to put problem in its proper perspective in relation to collective security and to impress upon Bebler our impartiality in dealing with it. Without disparaging the concessions which Yugoslavia has made, I underlined how small is the territorial difference separating us from a settlement and then gave him a general idea of what we would propose to conclude the negotiation.
Bebler received this calmly. He repeated but not vigorously standard Yugoslav reply to the effect that US–UK had pushed Yugoslav Government to limit, we have not followed their advice [Page 538] and retained any flexibility on the territorial problem, Italians would accept if we remained firm and we could not in justice expect Yugoslav government to make further concessions. He wondered if another concession were made whether this would not be the end and we should be faced with more Italian demands.
I stated that US after eight tedious months of negotiations was approaching the end of its ingenuity. We are now seeking statesmanlike decision by both Yugoslavs and Italians. If territorial settlement could be reached by Yugoslavs conceding a tiny wedge along the coast to Italians, the US would not mince words in Rome in an effort to obtain acceptance. In any case, we would not propose to return with additional territorial demands.
Bebler replied that if new territorial concessions were to be demanded of Yugoslav Government, he personally believed it would be necessary to ask territorial compensation however small; if Italians insisted upon the coastal area, the compensation would have to be larger than if it were made in the interior. He did not contend however that any further territorial compromise was impossible and this is encouraging.
I informed Bebler that President and Secretary wished me to outline directly to Tito larger aspects of problem as we felt assured his understanding and cooperation but I wanted acting Foreign Minister fully informed and hoped to count on his support. He said he would do his best and meeting concluded on very cordial note.
Bebler recommended that in talking to Kardelj, whom I shall see tomorrow afternoon, I review the general European situation on collective security with him. This I propose to do.
It has been arranged that I shall fly to Brioni September 17 for interview with Tito. Both Riddleberger and I agree it is wise to have these preliminary conversations with high-ranking officials first before attempting to close the deal with Tito. We believe he will certainly consult with Kardelj, Bebler and Tempo before any decision in view of the close teamwork and inner harmony of the ruling circle here.
  1. Repeated for information to London, Rome, and Trieste.
  2. supra .
  3. See telegram 212 from Belgrade, Sept. 15, infra .