750G.00/9–453: Telegram

No. 95
The Ambassador in Italy (Luce) to the Department of State1

765. I had long conversation with Pella yesterday which had been set before development of tension in Italo-Yugoslav relations. This being my first visit since Pella’s vote of confidence, we touched initially on variety of questions. I told him of US confidence in his ability to solve problems facing Italy and expressed hope that his government would continue to function effectively. He stressed that his government had not moved either to right or to left. Although he recognized that his vote of confidence was obtained by support of Monarchists and anti-De Gasperi forces, he wishes to emphasize that he had not made any move in their direction. He stated his government was one of transition, but this did not mean that his government would be necessarily of short duration. What he wanted to obtain was government of “clarification” so that Italian people could clarify their ideas concerning national policy and thereby achieve stable government.

I obtained distinct impression from my conversation that Pella has made Trieste question keystone of his policy in Italy. He emphasized that foreign policy of De Gasperi was permanent policy of Italy and would be continuing plan of action of his own government stating that 90% of time his policy would be exactly like De Gasperi, especially in the question of Trieste. His own policy would not be centered solely on European policy or an Atlantic policy, but would attempt to coordinate both objectives. He did not wish to be considered as more nationalistic than De Gasperi, however, big issue confronting his government and Italian people was problem of Trieste. His policy was explained in speech of August 19 which reiterated De Gasperi’s statements of 21 and 28 June. Italian policy in Trieste was based on tripartite declaration. Although I pointed out that fulfilment of tripartite declaration was no longer practical in view of recent developments, Pella stated that if Trieste were not settled according to letter of that declaration, it would have to be settled at least in its spirit. He failed to see why Italy should be called on to renounce historical claims underwritten by the declaration itself simply because Tito had defected from the Cominform. He stated that “the logical solution of Trieste in the spirit of tripartite declaration” would be one based on a plebiscite and establishment [Page 249] of continuous ethnic line. I did not question Pella on this point and at no time during conversation did he raise problem of “provisional” settlement. In this connection it is important to note that Pella spoke of “provisional” settlement too in his talk with Durbrow (Embtel 718, August 312). He also told Sebilleau3 that he could accept “provisional” settlement and it might not be impossible to accept definitive settlement based on present line of demarcation if proper steps could be taken to prepare Italian public opinion for such step. Gen. Gruenther reports that Marras also stressed desirability of “provisional” settlement at this time.

Pella stated US should now be able to see true nature of Trieste problem since Tito had launched his trial balloon in Yugoslav press. In response to my question whether Yugoslavs had deliberately planted press account of annexation of Zone B, he replied “absolutely, yes.”

I expressed to him our desire to see a relaxation of current tension, and asked him if he could not take measures to reduce it. He states that clarification of situation would be forthcoming after Tito’s speech on September 6. If that speech were inflammatory, then Italian Government would be required to make appropriate reply in his speech of September 13. He said that there had been only small movements of troops since August 29 and that it was laughable that Tito should protest Italian military activity on frontier. There had been, he said, no Italian protest against the recent Yugoslav maneuvers on border and no protest was made against vast partisan meetings scheduled on frontier at Okroljica for Sunday. He categorically denied that Italian troops or airplanes had purposely violated Yugoslav frontier. He did not ask why Bebler called in Western representatives on September 2 and I volunteered no info. (Embtel 733, September 20 [2] and Belgrade’s 278 to Dept.4) Pella felt that current situation could become serious, but no indication of extent of possible development can be given until Tito has made his declaration of policy.

Pella stated that settlement of Trieste question overshadows any other problem in Italian policy. There is already, according to him a growing suspicion in Italy that national interests have been sacrificed to foreign policy requirements.

Pella stated that he could agree to any foreign policy measure—facilities agreements, EDC, NATO commitments et cetera—if satisfactory settlement were reached concerning Trieste. If it is not settled, [Page 250] US will experience “the daily fatigue and frustration” of dealing with problems of mutual interest.

At dinner last night, I mentioned to Pella that I understood Gen. Marras had had discussions with Gen. Gruenther and had indicated to him that so-called “provisional” settlement on Trieste would be acceptable to Italians. I observed that in his conversation with me in afternoon, Pella had only mentioned what he referred to as “logical” implementation of spirit of March 20 declaration—that is, plebiscite which would result in delineation of continuous ethnic line. I asked him if this omission meant that “provisional” solution was not considered as an alternative by him. He said no, that he did not exclude this type of settlement. When I had indicated to Pella’s Chief du Cabinet, Scola Camerini, earlier in evening my surprise that Prime Minister had not mentioned “provisional” solution in afternoon interview, he said he thought Prime Minister preferred that he “infer” it.

  1. Repeated for information to London, Paris, Belgrade, and Trieste.
  2. Not printed. (750G.00/8–3153)
  3. Pierre Sebilleau, Counselor of the French Embassy in Rome.
  4. Neither printed. (Both 750G.00/9–253)