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

1035. Department pass Moscow as desired.

Tonight at Tito reception for Soviet Delegation I was requested, as were several other Chiefs of Mission, to join party for supper where I had 40-minute conversation with Khrushchev. As discussion became quite animated and practically stopped all other conversation, I am reporting it in some detail as I am sure there will be press accounts appearing tomorrow. I had distinct impression it was a planned affair but perhaps went further than Yugoslavs anticipated. In addition to Soviet Delegation all the top Yugoslav hierarchy was present and two or three other of the Mission Chiefs here.
Khrushchev opened the conversation by giving a lecture on corn production and complaining of US criticism. He said that we had failed to comprehend what he had in mind and that in bringing new land into production for corn he was not contemplating grain but silage. It was essential to increase meat production in USSR and he was convinced that Siberian lands were suitable for this type of production. I replied I was not aware of US criticism against raising food production but that growing of corn in my experience was a question of sufficient moisture and perhaps there had been some allusion to the suitability of certain land. I said in any case the question was an agricultural one and not ideological and that perhaps something could be gained from our experience in dry farming in the West.
Khrushchev continued by complaining of a general US misunderstanding of Soviet motives insisting that USSR wanted good relations with all countries. He implied that he had the same feeling re Yugoslav relations with other countries and referred to his remarks when he arrived in Belgrade.2 I replied I was happy to hear this comment and naturally hoped that it would be possible to develop friendly relations as solutions were found to various outstanding problems.
Khrushchev said that one of the greatest difficulties at arriving at settlement of problems was US determination to negotiate from “a position of strength.” He cited recent statements by the President and the Secretary as evidence of US desire to make more difficult the peaceful solution of outstanding problems by negotiation and complained of an American desire to dominate by force. I replied that positions of strength were certainly not unknown to the USSR and recalled that in recent years his country had not been averse to utilizing its strength for purposes of pressure. Khrushchev asked what I meant and I replied that I could personally recall such pressure as the Berlin blockade since I happened to be in Berlin at that time. He then dropped this part of conversation by remarking that perhaps each side could criticize the other for various acts and I said that our decisions were invariably based upon defense considerations. He then made some obscure remark which seemed to be a complaint about our position on the satellite countries but did not pursue the matter further.
Khrushchev then launched into a long dissertation on Communism versus Capitalism and complained that we did not understand the desires of the working classes throughout the world. I said that perhaps I had had the advantage of having been both in the US and USSR and that my observation was that the working classes in the US were certainly benefitting to a high degree from the general prosperity. I said I thought whatever the approach to distribution of wealth might be it certainly had to be admitted that Capitalism in the US had brought great benefit to the working classes. At this point Khrushchev got red in the face and became highly personal. He said that I could not possibly understand the attitude of the working classes and their outlook. I replied dryly that I was quite prepared to match my experience as one of the laboring classes with his. This seemed to surprise him somewhat and he asked what I meant. I said that as a young man I had been a farm hand, an iceman, a painter, an apple picker and had worked at a number of other jobs. I said that there could be no greater illusion than to believe that all Americans whom he happened to meet at parties had no manual labor background. This terminated the discussion on Communism and Capitalism.
We then turned to the Big Four meeting and Khrushchev said he regretted that difficulties had been raised by US in recent statements made in Washington. I replied that Big Four meeting would no doubt have to concern itself with procedure on how to deal with many difficult problems which had a long history. He then said the solution of these problems were made more difficult by such persons [Page 656] as McCarthy3 to which I replied that in every country there were differences of opinion on how problems should be dealt with and remarked that even in the Soviet Union there seemed to have been some difficulties with Beria.4
As is obvious, the discussion was rather animated at this point and Tito intervened to propose a toast to peace. I suggested that we could add the phrase “with justice” to the toast and Khrushchev instead of drinking launched into a long harangue about trade. At this point the Chief of Protocol appeared with another Ambassador and the discussion on trade was never concluded.
At one point in the discussion of the Big Four meeting Khrushchev said he would probably not be there as he was not a head of government.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.68/5–2855. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to London and Paris. A copy was sent by the Acting Secretary of State to Goodpaster with a covering memorandum dated May 30, which stated that the telegram might interest the President.
  2. An unofficial translation of Khrushchev’s remarks was an enclosure to despatch 665 from Belgrade, May 27. According to the translation, Khrushchev stated: “The desire of Yugoslavia to maintain relations with all States both in the West and in the East has met with complete understanding on our part. We consider the strengthening of friendship and ties between our countries regardless of their social systems, will contribute to consolidation of peace in general.” (Ibid., 661.68/5–2755) The text of Khrushchev’s remarks is printed in Documents (R.I.I.A) for 1955, p. 265.
  3. Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican Senator from Wisconsin.
  4. Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beriya, Deputy Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers until June 1953; Minister of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, March 1953–June 1953. Beriya was deposed and executed in 1953.