768.5/12–2252: Telegram

No. 663
The Ambassador in Yugoslavia (Allen) to the Department of State1

top secret

878. No distribution outside Department. Embtel 873, December 20.2 After formal presentation to Kardelj of text re Handy talks, Kardelj remarked that Yugoslav Govt had already studied report of Handy conversations and was giving thought to question how they might be followed up most profitably. He said Yugoslav Govt was inclined to think military authorities could make little further progress until certain understandings had been reached among four governments on political level.

French Ambassador asked Kardelj if he would care to be more specific. Kardelj said he had not contemplated entering into discussion on this point and had no brief prepared. He thought a further meeting for such discussion wld be useful. However, we [he?] thought Handy talks had not proceeded as far as either side had hoped, chiefly because participants on neither side seemed to know what goal they were seeking. . . . Kardelj said planning would have to be entirely different depending on what eventualities were envisaged. He said Yugoslav authorities were also coming up against this difficulty in their military talks with Turks and Greeks. He hoped, of course, that Yugoslavia would not either have to defend itself alone or “become another Korea”. (In mentioning [Page 1323]Korea, I presume Kardelj had in mind a localized war with outside assistance.)

I commented that conversation was getting into very deep water involving decisions which could only be made on highest governmental levels. I asked why military could not plan for various eventualities even though basic political decisions had not been made.

Kardelj said Yugoslav Govt did not believe any attack in Europe could remain isolated. He commented that in view of strong and highly important defense United Nations had made against aggression in Korea, he now believed that further Cominform aggression anywhere would lead to general war. He could not say, in case of attack against Yugoslavia, whether general war would result immediately or after some delay, but he felt certain that Western powers would not permit Cominform to extend its control any further. . . .

French Ambassador commented that isolated attack and isolated war were not same thing. Kardelj agreed, and said that if Yugoslavia had to contemplate fighting isolated war alone, there would be no need for continuing military planning. I commented that alternative plans to meet various contingencies was normal military practice and raised question whether planning might not be useful, even on hypothesis of isolated war as one possibility, since measures of assistance were possible to a victim of aggression short of formal declaration of war. . . .

Conversation ended with insistence by all participants that views expressed had been personal and entirely informal. Kardelj, however, would not have raised this sort of matter with us unless it had been the subject of active consideration by Tito and his immediate advisors. This is confirmed by difficulties being experienced by Turk military delegate, told me by Turkish Ambassador reported separately.3 I am unable to say how far Yugoslav Government thinking on this has crystallized but concept that some political understanding is precondition to fruitful followup to Handy conversations has probably not been advanced lightly.

  1. Repeated for information to London, Paris, Rome, Athens, and Ankara eyes only Chiefs of Mission and senior military attachés.
  2. Telegram 873 reported that Allen and his British and French colleagues had given to Kardelj that day the text of a brief communication, for the Yugoslav Government’s concurrence, which the three governments planned to make to the Greek, Italian, and Turkish Governments, summarizing the results of the Handy talks. Kardelj said the text seemed entirely acceptable to him and he would give a definite official reply in the near future. (768.5/12–2052) In telegram 874 from Belgrade, Dec. 21, Allen reported that Kardelj had just given Yugoslav formal concurrence. (768.5/12–2152) The communication regarding the Handy talks was given to the Italian Government on Dec. 24, to the Greek Government on Dec. 23, and to the Turkish Government on Dec. 26.
  3. Reported in telegram 880 from Belgrade, Dec. 22. (768.5/12–2252)