The Ambassador in Yugoslavia
(Riddleberger) to the Department of State
216. Limit distribution. From Murphy. Riddleberger and I had two-hour conversation today with V. P. Kardelj and acting Foreign Minister Bebler. We were told before meeting that V. P. was interested in international situation. I outlined some features of western Pacific, Near East and Western European collective security questions and then brought conversation around to Trieste. Kardelj said Bebler had briefed him on our conversations of yesterday. I underscored interests of President and Secretary in early settlement because of the larger political considerations involved and described US–UK idea of small deviation on western end of May 31 line. I explained my purpose to proceed Rome for last attempt to persuade Italians of equity of May 31 proposal but that I wanted Kardelj’s support for Yugoslav Government authorization to offer Italians small wedge of territory at western end of line.
Riddleberger and I again advanced every argument available all of which Kardelj seemed to expect. His firm position seemed to be that US–UK had made a commitment in effect guaranteeing May 31 line as settlement basis and that we had assured Yugoslavia we had means which we would use to oblige Italians to accept. (We contested this interpretation.) Yugoslav public opinion would resent implication that US now obviously under Italian pressure forcing Yugoslavia to yield more territory. This would be bad [Page 542] augury for future political relations not only between Italy and Yugoslavia but between Yugoslavia and US.
I drove point home that US fails to understand how Yugoslav Government or people could entertain such view in light importance US economic and military aid program for Yugoslavia in which Italy does not participate. Kardelj admitted this an important factor.
Kardelj understands I shall present to Tito Friday2 President’s message and discuss problem. Whether his negative attitude today colored by that fact I am not certain. His opposition to further concession without very substantial territorial compensation most firm and determined. He told me in effect he took final position with top party leadership that May 31 was last word and to concede further would humiliate.