Yugoslav Desk files, lot 59 D 383, “Washington Conference”

No. 636
Memorandum of Conversation, by James Colbert of the Office of Eastern European Affairs

confidential

Subject:

  • Discussion with Ambassador Allen on Yugoslavia Economic Assistance

Participants:

  • Ambassador George V. Allen, US Ambassador to Yugoslavia
  • George Truesdell, EE
  • James L. Colbert, EE
  • Jules Katz, EE
  • Oliver Marcy, EE
  • Robert Johnson

The Ambassador inquired as to what the underlying reasons were for continuing a tripartite arrangement. He mentioned that he had been considering prior to his departure from Belgrade sending in a rather strong cable suggesting the discontinuance of the tripartite arrangement. The political and policy reasons described in various US papers were briefly summarized for the Ambassador by Mr. Truesdell. Other practical and operational reasons were mentioned in support of the continuance in the tripartite scheme. It was explained that participation by the British and the French would supplement the quite limited amounts of assistance which the US would be able to furnish, particularly in view of the likely Congressional cut. It was also explained that it was the hope of the US Delegation that if the agreement of the US Government was secured in the arrangement with the British and French to furnish aid to Yugoslavia, the observance of this agreement by the US in the event of a substantial overall cut by Congress for European aid would make it difficult, if not impossible, to go below the minimum agreed on with the British and the French. Such an argument would not exist if the tripartite arrangement were abandoned.

Ambassador Allen stated his position as being that if it were necessary to apply extensive controls on assistance to Yugoslavia as opposed to giving them no aid, he would prefer to furnish no aid. [Page 1269]Mr. Truesdell said that he felt that the sense of the conference was to the effect that the working relations with Yugoslavia could be on the basis of good faith and mutual cooperation. It was also planned that many of the points of coordination and control could be covered and the coordination process in effect clearly defined at the discussions in the conference, and this would leave considerable subsequent latitude to the three governments. The Ambassador asked whether it appeared that each government could be given the freedom to evaluate whether Yugoslavia lived up to its commitments.

Ambassador Allen explained to the group his general feeling that it was certainly more in US interest to continue a three country arrangement than one solely with the British. He mentioned that one aspect of the arrangement was that in the event of the US falling short through lack of funds or for administrative reasons on a commitment the reaction by the Yugoslavs to such an unavoidable situation was absorbed tripartitely. It should be mentioned here for the record that the Ambassador had previously expressed his dislike for a tripartite arrangement which would cause the US role in Yugoslavia to assume the same guise that our position had in other countries in the Near East, that is that the US appeared to the Yugoslav people to be dominated by and following the lead of the British with respect to economic policy. He felt that at all costs we should avoid any situation arising in respect to provision of assistance to Yugoslavia where our action might be interpreted as being tied to the British kite.