No. 291
Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Barbour) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Murphy)
top secret


  • Trieste—Briefing of U.S. Press
[Page 567]

I suggest that your briefing of the U.S. Press at 9:30 a.m., October 5,1 be rather short and general and that you leave some time for questions. While you are talking the press boys will of course be trying to get the highlights of the communiqué and the text2 which will be in their hands.

You might refer to our determination to help achieve an arrangement that both Italy and Yugoslavia could agree to and live with; and how the negotiations which have just concluded began in London on February 2. (At this point you might say as an aside that not only the Italian and Yugoslav Governments agreed in advance to the London negotiations but also the French Government, which has already been informed of the result.)

You might explain that the negotiations were too complex for you to go into any detail about them and add that today’s result represents concessions on both sides which demonstrate the statesmanship of both the Yugoslav and Italian Governments. You might read the following from Thompson’s original instructions, dated January 28, and signed by General Smith as Acting Secretary:3 “. . .4 we believe that the United States–United Kingdom should make clear at the outset that they are not thinking in terms of a local settlement or even of Italo-Yugoslav relations alone, but rather of the political, military, and economic health of a key area which will have great significance for all of the free world.” You might conclude by saying that the farsightedness and moderation that has been shown by the Yugoslav and Italian Governments entitles us to believe that these hopes are now on the threshold of fulfillment.


You will be asked some tough questions, of which the following are likely examples:

Whether there are any secret protocols or agreements. Thompson suggests, and I concur, that “we state that the agreement contains no secret protocols although in the course of the negotiations certain assurances and interpretations were agreed upon.” You might add that this is standard in all agreements that involve as much detailed negotiations as this has, and that there is nothing dramatic or out of the ordinary in any of the assurances and interpretations that have been exchanged. (Note: The exchanges on reparations [Page 568] and credit institutions and the amount of money for a cultural house are secret.)
You may be asked about the details of the negotiations and various positions that may have been taken by each side. I suggest you refuse to discuss anything about the course of the negotiations except to say that they were extremely complex.
In this connection you may be asked about your trip, and I suggest you confine yourself to saying that you did of course discuss the negotiations, as well as many other things, with both Marshal Tito and Premier Scelba, but that the discussions were confidential and all you can say about them is that both showed a thoroughly farsighted and statesmanlike attitude.
You may be asked about the “declaration of non-support”. I suggest you confine yourself to saying that the declaration speaks for itself, and that if asked you refuse to discuss the finality or provisionality of the agreement, beyond saying you feel sure both parties will abide by it.
There may be some effort to emphasize that Italy has lost territorially from October 8, and that Yugoslavia has gained some territory in excess of Zone B, without giving up any. You might say that the area is so small that you do not consider the difference worth mentioning, and bear down hard on the proposition that this has been a negotiation in which both sides have won.
If asked about the Soviet attitude you might point out that they tried to prevent the carrying out of the terms of the Peace Treaty setting up the Free Territory, and that they will no doubt object to any agreement which strengthens the unity of the West. You might add that though they have accused the US–UK of maintaining a military base in Trieste, and though our complete withdrawal exposes their hypocrisy, you doubt they will be much embarrassed.

(Note: A glance at the maps at pages 98–103, and 134–141 in the Atlas of European History, herewith,5 may be helpful in answering any historical questions.)

  1. No record of Murphy’s press briefing has been found in Department of State files.
  2. For texts of the communiqué and the memorandum of understanding, see Document 293.
  3. Document 165.
  4. Ellipsis in the source text.
  5. Not printed.