248. Telegram From the Embassy in Yugoslavia to the Department of State1

942. Paris pass Secretary, Knight and Wallner.

Foreign Secretary this morning is informing US, UK, French, Greek and Turk Ambassadors that top-level meeting with USSR has been fixed for Belgrade at end of May. Conversation with me was as follows.
Foreign Secretary said that pursuant to its proclaimed desire to improve relations with USSR and satellite countries on a basis of full equality of rights, non-interference in internal affairs, et cetera and referring also to Tito’s conversation with me on April 25 (Embtel 870, paragraph 2)2 it has been decided that conference with USSR will take place in Belgrade at end of May. It has been found possible to arrange conversations at highest level and Soviet delegation composed as follows: Khrushchev head of delegation, Bulganin, Mikoyan, Shepilov, Gromyko and Kumikin. Yugoslav delegation will be Tito, Kardelj, Rankovic, Vukmanovic-Tempo, Koca Popovic, Todorovic and Micunovic. Joint communiqué will appear tomorrow and Foreign Secretary requested that information be regarded as confidential until published.
In view of importance of this meeting Foreign Secretary said he wished to advise tripartite powers and Yugoslav allies in Balkan Alliance together with following comment: Yugoslav Government welcomes this initiative (I could not extract from Foreign Secretary whose initiative) which has as its background a long period of Soviet political attacks against Yugoslavia. Whatever usefulness the meeting may have, Yugoslav policy is clear and is based as stated before on postulates of full equality of rights and non-interference. Yugoslav Government will not support any “destructive efforts” of USSR and meeting will provide opportunity to probe Soviet intentions. Yugoslav Government thinks it may be possible to settle certain practical questions of normalization in course of this meeting and if such is case it will be most helpful. If Soviet Government does not exhibit sincerity, then Yugoslav Government will be able to judge its intentions with more clarity. Therefore Yugoslav Government will believe it is useful to have meeting and thinks the conference is in full accord with all other efforts and negotiations now underway or impending to achieve a relaxation of tensions.
Foreign Secretary said he wished to emphasize once more that this meeting in no sense implied a change in fundamental Yugoslav Government policy of good and cordial relations with Western countries. He reverted to this theme three times during course of conversations and and underlined that Yugoslav efforts paralleled those of West.
Foreign Secretary laid particular emphasis on fact that meeting will be held in Belgrade which he interprets as a great victory for Yugoslav policy of firmness in face of earlier Soviet threats. In saying that this is a common victory for all of us he declared that Yugoslav Government policy of firmness had been made possible by support it had received from Western countries and in particular from US. As Yugoslav Government has said before it hopes this meeting represents a real change in Soviet attitude and if Soviet intentions are sincere it may be a great step towards a peaceful world.
Foreign Secretary then said he recognized that guidance to or influence on press was a delicate matter but that he very much hoped some way could be found to present this meeting as a new step towards maintenance of peace and to avoid any possible “negative reactions”. I said I thought news of this meeting would be a sensation and it was difficult to predict what the press reaction would be.
At conclusion of his observations I tried to ascertain if this conference would be followed by a high-level visit to Moscow. Foreign Secretary replied that this was a conference and not a visit but did not give me a direct answer. I was not able to obtain much information on agenda beyond fact that questions affecting normalization would be discussed and in particular a number of practical matters. In response to my observation that calibre of Soviet delegation was so high that important results could be anticipated, Foreign Secretary confined reply to saying meeting would provide real opportunity to test sincerity of Soviet intentions, as Soviet delegation was composed of those authorized to make decisions.
When reading list of Soviet delegation, but not in response to any question of mine, Foreign Secretary volunteered information that Molotov was not coming and perhaps this had a certain significance in view of his association with earlier and highly antagonistic policy of USSR against Yugoslavia. He also observed that he thought Molotov’s position was none too strong.
Comment to follow.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.68/5–1355. Secret; Niact. Repeated niact to Paris, Athens, and London and priority to Moscow.
  2. Document 241.