750G.00/9–2054: Telegram

No. 279
The Ambassador in Italy (Luce) to the Department of State1
top secret

1113. Limit distribution. From Murphy. Ambassador Luce and I had a long and most cordial meeting today with Zoppi, Del Balzo, Casardi and Lanza on the Trieste question. I followed the outline contained in Embtel 11072 pointing out the great interest of President Eisenhower in a settlement and stating that we were glad to accept the Italian suggestion concerning “highest level representation”. In stressing the personal interest of the President in this [Page 550] matter I told the Foreign Office officials of his letter to Tito.3 I stated that not only was the President interested in the settlement of the Trieste question itself but he was particularly concerned about the larger problem of the course of European events. After sketching the problems created by the French action on EDC I said that the President’s problem was to determine “where we are going” and in that process good relations between Italy and Yugoslavia as in case of France and Germany would be a very important factor.

In giving this background of my trip to Belgrade I stated that I had discussed the Trieste question at length with all Yugoslav officials including the interview with Tito last Friday. I said that as a result of these talks I came to Rome with a proposal which I considered to be a sound and reasonable solution of the troublesome problem of territorial rectification. Before outlining the proposal to the Italian officials I said that this was our maximum position and that I sincerely hoped that it would be accepted without counterproposal because subsequent negotiations of the proposed lines could not be undertaken.

With the aid of a large-scale map I then presented the following as final alternatives:

A swap of the 1B rockpile for a wedge formed by drawing a line between the intersection of parallel 50 (as indicated on sheet 53 A–1, AMS series M 791) with the coast to the peak of Mt. San Michel.
The retention in 1A of a slice formed by running a line 100 meters south of parallel 51, as indicated on the same map, from the coast to the May 31 line.

Zoppi and his colleagues then proceeded to study the map with great intensity and interest. They asked many questions, particularly the mechanics with which the lines would ultimately be drawn. I replied that the ultimate boundary under the foregoing alternative proposals would be drawn under the same provisions as were provided in the original agreement.

Zoppi and his colleagues stated they considered the alternatives a balanced settlement either one of which could be defended before the Italian Parliament and Italian public opinion. I stressed that the territorial question was the only problem involved as all other aspects of the Trieste settlement had been agreed in London. I pointed out that a clear decision would be most desirable as I stop in London on my way home and hope that Thompson could clear this question in a few days thereafter.

[Page 551]

Italian officials stated that although proposals offered a “choice between two evils” the Foreign Office could agree to one or the other of the alternatives but it was necessary both to consult Fracassi concerning local Trieste reaction and to refer the matter to Scelba. They stressed that the decision did not belong in the Foreign Office but would have to be made by the Cabinet which will meet tomorrow morning. Their whole attitude seemed to be encouraging, and they expressed gratitude first that we had made representations in Belgrade and secondly that a modification of the May 31 line had been achieved.

Later at lunch I was told by Zoppi and others that Scelba had agreed to raise the matter in the Council of Ministers tomorrow and to push for acceptance of whichever proposal would prove, in the judgment of the Cabinet, the more politically possible for Italy. Ambassador Luce and I have an appointment with Scelba this evening at 6 p.m., and will lay the entire matter before him in the same detail with which I presented it to the Foreign Office. Tomorrow I will see the new Foreign Minister Martino who as the Department is aware (my telegram 1107) was most sympathetic to the whole idea. I will stress both with Scelba and Martino the finality of this offer and will state that no counterproposal can be made and no further negotiations can be undertaken.

Ambassador Luce raised the question of timing of the announcement of agreement and we urged early announcement. Italians unanimously agreed that any announcement of Italian acceptance should include details of the agreement. We all feel that whole story should be presented since it will become a matter of public debate. They agreed that announcement should be made as soon as possible before anniversary of October 8 and that shortest time possible should elapse between announcement and take-over.

  1. Repeated for information to London for Thompson and to Belgrade and Trieste.
  2. In telegram 1107, Sept. 20, Murphy described his “exceedingly cordial discussion” of the Trieste issue with the new Italian Foreign Minister, Gaetano Martino, at an informal dinner the previous evening. His approach to Martino, as outlined in this telegram, was almost identical to the approach suggested in the memorandum of conversation by Collins, supra. (750G.00/9–2054)
  3. Dated Sept. 10; see Document 268.