No. 644
The Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department has been informed by the American Embassies in London and Paris that the initial British and French reaction has been favorable to the revised procedures which we have recommended to them in the matter of the proposed staff talks with the Yugoslavs . . . .2 The British Foreign Office has indicated that we may expect a formal reply this week, and the comments of the French Foreign Office at the time our recent note was delivered lead us to hope that a formal French reply will also be received at an early date.3 It would therefore [Page 1296]seem desirable at this time to prepare for the meeting of military representatives in Washington which we have proposed, to ensure that the meeting may be convoked without delay once the formal British and French replies have been received and those two Governments have appointed their representatives. This letter is designed to set forth the views of this Department in respect to those conversations in order that you may take them into account in making whatever arrangements you deem desirable to prepare for the talks.

As you know, the original United States proposal to the United Kingdom and France set forth certain general political considerations which would guide the US, UK and France in military talks with the Yugoslavs. Those general considerations have been accepted by the British and French and should not therefore be in question in the discussions which it is planned to hold in Washington. They are, in broad outline, as follows:

. . . . . . .

4. The proposed discussions and planning between the three Western powers and Yugoslavia shall be on a contingency basis and concerned with purely military matters.

As is set forth in our most recent note to the United Kingdom and France, we hope that the meeting in Washington between military representatives of the US, UK and France will not concern itself with these political issues but will be confined strictly to consideration from the military standpoint of the several points upon which agreement remains to be reached. These include the following:

Agreement on the individual (or possible alternates) to be proposed to Tito as the representative designated by the three Western powers to conduct the talks;
Clarification of the actual agenda for the military talks between the representative of the three Western powers and the Yugoslav military authorities; and
The establishment of the necessary administrative and line-of-command procedures to assure appropriate communication to and from the three Governments during the course of the actual discussions with the Yugoslavs.

Our views on these points, in so far as they directly concern us, were made available to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the JCS–State meeting of June 18.4 … We believe, however, that this is largely a question for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to resolve.

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It is hoped that, following the conclusion of the Washington meeting, the three Governments will be in a position to proceed directly towards the diplomatic approach in Belgrade. You will recall in this connection that our original proposal to the British and French Governments stipulated that the actual approach should be made at a time deemed appropriate by the three Ambassadors in Belgrade, who were to take into account such political issues as Trieste. Once agreement is reached in the Washington discussions, therefore, it will be necessary to consult the diplomatic representatives of the three countries in Belgrade to ascertain whether they consider the time propitious to make the actual approach.

This Department does not anticipate that the presence of political observers at the actual meetings in Washington will be necessary. The presence of such observers would, in our opinion, risk the possibility of expanding the discussions into the political sphere, which is not desired. This Department will, of course, appreciate being kept closely informed of the progress of the discussions and would wish to be consulted if the British or French representatives insist upon political observers or upon raising the broader political issues. It stands ready, needless to say, to offer any assistance or advice which you may feel would be useful.5

Sincerely yours,

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Drafted by Marcy and Barbour and cleared with WE, EUR, BNA, RA, G, and S/P.
  2. The revised procedures described here were communicated to the British Foreign Office and the French Foreign Ministry on June 23. The text of the notes was transmitted to the Embassies in the respective capitals as telegram 6790 to London and telegram 7470 to Paris, June 20. (768.5/6–2052)
  3. In telegram 144 from London, July 9, Ambassador Gifford reported that the British Government indicated its approval of the revised procedures. (768.5/7–952) The French Government gave its approval in a note, dated June 27, delivered to the Embassy on July 1. A copy of this note is attached to despatch 27 from Paris, July 3. (768.5/7–352)
  4. See the memorandum of discussion, supra.
  5. In a brief letter of July 9 to Secretary Acheson, Brig. Gen. Marshall S. Carter, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, acknowledged receipt of Matthews’ letter of July 2 and stated that it had been forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their information and such action as they deemed appropriate at this stage. (768.5/7–952)