750G.00/9–2054: Telegram

No. 280
The Ambassador in Italy (Luce) to the Department of State 1
top secret

1114. From Murphy. Ambassador Luce and I had long talk with Scelba this evening. I presented to him same arguments I used this morning with Zoppi and Foreign Office officials stressing particularly [Page 552] personal interest of President Eisenhower in a settlement which would contribute most to general European interest. Zoppi had already informed Scelba of exact details of alternative proposals on territorial rectification as reported in Embtel 11132—consequently I did not take up with Prime Minister any details but confined my remarks to the urgency and reasonableness of the settlement and effect it would have on our mutual objectives.

After Scelba expressed his appreciation for President’s interest in this question he gave long historical account of Trieste question in which he pointed out with great emotion that Tito always won and that Italy always was forced to give up its historical rights. He reviewed Trieste question from time of World War I to present.

Scelba informed me that he felt and Italian public opinion would feel very bitterly about this question but he recognized his responsibilities in matter and that he would recommend to his Cabinet an acceptance of one or other alternative proposals. He said that he would speak bitterly to Cabinet since it meant transfer of “many Italians” to Communist rule but nevertheless a solution must be reached. He stressed that chief problem involved was of placating Italian public opinion. Many questions will be asked both in Parliament and in press which government is forced to answer in best light possible. He was sure however that Italian Cabinet would recognize its international responsibilities and would accept a settlement which would contribute to improvement of Italo-Yugoslav relations. He felt that continued improvement in Italo-Yugoslav relations after settlement would depend solely on manner in which Tito protected rights of Italians placed under Yugoslav rule. If he violated those rights, then Trieste settlement would have no validity whatsoever in easing European situation.

We plan to see Martino tomorrow. Scelba gave no indication when decision of government would be made known to us but stated that we were “at the end of the drama” and there was no point in prolonging negotiations on this question. I anticipate that an early decision will be given by Italian Government. A full report of the conversation will be transmitted later.3

  1. Repeated for information to London, Belgrade, and Trieste.
  2. supra .
  3. Not found in Department of State files.