EE files, lot 67 D 238, “Yugoslavia military talks”

No. 634
The Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: You will recall that, at the last political-military meeting with the British on the subject of planning in respect to Yugoslavia, which was held on November 12, 1951, the British indicated that they wished to consult London again on a number of points raised by our proposals. These were set forth in the position paper agreed to by the Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and transmitted to the Secretary of State by your letter of October 22, 1951.2 The British have now indicated that they are ready to resume these talks, and wish to do so as a matter of urgency. They are also being pressed by the French, who are apparently aware that talks have been initiated and wish to be informed concerning them.

From informal advice which we have received from the British Embassy we understand that the British military side has developed a four point program which they believe provides an appropriate procedural basis to enable us to move forward towards the desired planning. We are not informed as to whether this program has the endorsement of the British Government or represents only the views of the British Joint Chiefs, but believe it a safe assumption that the former is the case. These four points, as they have been outlined to us, are as follows: (1) a proposal to initiate military planning should not now be presented to NATO; (2) we and the British should immediately bring the French into the planning picture; (3) as soon as agreement has been reached with the French, the three Ambassadors in Belgrade should approach Marshal Tito and inform him, on behalf of the three powers, that the latter are desirous of discussing these matters with Yugoslav officials through an appropriate military representative of the three [Page 1267]powers (Admiral Carney); and (4) following this advice to Tito, Admiral Carney should, on behalf of the three powers, bring the Italians up-to-date and immediately initiate the planned technical discussions.

You will note that this procedure is not in conformity with that mutually agreed to be desirable by State and Defense last fall, and set forth in the paper referred to. However, since the differences are largely procedural, and in view of the urgent necessity of getting ahead with planning in reference to Yugoslavia, we would be prepared, providing of course you are in agreement, to accede to the British view on this aspect of the matter, with the minor exception that we feel Admiral Carney should bring the Italians up-to-date before the approach is made to Tito. I would, therefore, appreciate it if you would ascertain whether the Joint Chiefs of Staff wish to stand firm on the position adopted last fall or whether, in view of the urgency involved, they are prepared to accept a formula along the above lines, leaving minor matters such as that of timing mentioned above to be ironed out in the next meeting with the British.

Since, in addition to the procedural problem referred to, there are several substantive matters concerning which agreement remains to be reached with the British, if the Joint Chiefs of Staff are prepared to go along with this procedural suggestion we would propose to call another political-military meeting at the earliest possible moment in order to receive the British reaction to our proposals and endeavor to reach some agreement on the basis of which we may move forward.3

Sincerely yours,

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Drafted by Marcy.
  2. Neither the position paper nor the covering letter referred to is printed.
  3. No record has been found in Department of State files of a reply to this letter. For a summary transcript of the political-military meeting between British and U.S. representatives regarding Yugoslavia, held on Apr. 16, see Document 639.