750G.00/9–1854: Telegram

No. 277
The Ambassador in Italy (Luce) to the Department of State 1
top secret

1100. From Murphy. After conversation with Tito reported September 17 from Belgrade Riddleberger, Hooker and I had two conversations September 18 first with Bebler and then with Kardelj, Koca Popovich and Bebler. Killen also saw Vukmanovic-Tempo.

[Page 546]

First question we were asked by Bebler was what we thought of “new proposal” discussed in London September 17 by Velebit, Harrison and Thompson.2 I replied I was not aware of any new proposal. Bebler explained that in London there had been discussed possibility of concession by Yugoslavs of small slice of territory about 300 by 800 metres immediately below Punta Sottile running approximately from coast 100 metres south of parallel 51 to May 31 line. I said I was not prepared to discuss it. Bebler took pains to explain that this additional variant might be useful in discussions with the Italians. I replied that if we continued jumping from one variant to another I feared we would never conclude and that I preferred dealing with the proposition on which we had found agreement yesterday in principle with Tito.

Bebler took issue over our understanding that Tito had agreed that compensation for Yugoslav concession of wedge (intersection line 50 and coast to Mount San Michele) on coast would be only part of rockpile saying it would have to be all of rockpile. He offered to verify this by telephone with Brioni.

Afterwards they all came to Embassy for lunch. Bebler said they had discussed matter by telephone with Brioni and is now clear that they want all of rockpile in compensation. This was said by Bebler and confirmed by Kardelj but I thought without much conviction.

I believe it was said for bargaining purposes and to avoid another rigid position similar to that resulting from May 31.

However, re smaller Punta Sottile slice they wanted us to know in confidence that if Italians were interested in such a solution Yugoslavs would first ask for the quarry as compensation but actually are prepared to make this as a unilateral concession without any compensation.

I propose therefore that in talks with Italians we lead off with proposed swap of wedge for rockpile resulting from Tito conversation. If that fails we can try the variant of the small Punta Sottile slice first with compensation then if necessary as unilateral concession by Yugoslavs.

Suggestions from Thompson and Department would be appreciated.3 Riddleberger and Wallner, who have lived with this question [Page 547] for long time agree with my impression Yugoslavs now are sincerely eager to conclude. US wheat aid has had most helpful impact.

  1. Repeated for information to London for Thompson and to Belgrade and Trieste.
  2. Presumably a reference to the proposal in Document 275.
  3. In telegram 930 to Rome, Sept. 18, Smith told Murphy that he concurred in his proposed tactics with the Italian Government and that his opening suggestion should be acceptable if the Italian Government, as Thompson had indicated, were interested in saving face by accomplishing a nominal change in the western end of the May 31 line. (750G.00/9–1854)