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

1171. Paris for Knight and Wallner. Rome for Maffitt. The following comments on military aspects talks US-UK-French Ambassadors with Prica:2

On main US objective re joint military planning Prica in effect stuck to position taken by Koca Popovic with me that Yugos unwilling discuss military coordination except as directly related to agenda for technical conference (Embtel 928);3 i.e., to discussion shopping list and increased deliveries military aid program. Prica, however, clearly sought to imply some flexibility or possibility of development in this position by suggesting high-level military talks after agreement agenda through diplomatic channels and he repeated several times that agenda reported Deptel4 was “only a proposal” and is subject to revision.
This behavior seems to me natural corollary following complex of motives: (A) Desire to continue build-up of Yugo military strength with US aid, while (B) maintaining public posture re-emphasizing military factors; (C) maintaining present lofty moral position “above the battle” of military-ideological blocs; (D) making the most of the remarkably happy bargaining position in which they find themselves; (E) keeping the ball in play until the diplomatic events of the summer have revealed more clearly what the future holds.
I do not believe that this necessarily forecloses possibility of our moving up slowly and by indirection on some sort of makeshift arrangement that will give us some of the benefits we seek provided we are patient and persistent. But I believe no possibility getting Yugo agreement to discuss joint military planning as originally envisaged. Maximum result attainable in near future would in my opinion be agreement to reveal and discuss Yugo military plans as they relate (A) to portion of the Yugo establishment now receiving aid under MDAP (item 1 proposed agenda); (B) to those additional military elements [Page 660] for which they propose and we agree to discuss aid (remainder of proposed agenda). I believe this should be our minimum objective.
After consultation with British and French Ambassadors, I believe we should explore with Prica possibility securing adequately precise agenda before making decision of whether to agree to proposed “high-level military conference.” However, if we make progress along these lines believe I will eventually need guidance US position regarding additional military assistance envisaged (B) above (items 2, 3, and 4 proposed agenda).
Logic of foregoing is that effort to work out precise agenda (within limits guidance re items 2, 3, and 4) would result in either substantial expectation re solution of problems or an impasse which might force US to take a decision as to future aid program for Yugoslavia.
Request authority initiate discussions agenda with Prica soonest in coordination with British and French Ambassadors on understanding that no commitment, expressed or implied, with respect future military aid.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–BR/6–2855. Secret. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, London, Paris, and Rome.
  2. Talks were held in Belgrade June 24–27 between Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Prica and the U.S., U.K., and French Ambassadors on political and military matters. The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the talks is printed in Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, p. 276.
  3. In telegram 928 from Belgrade, May 10, Riddleberger reported on his meeting with Foreign Minister Popović on May 10, during which the military aid programs were discussed. (Department of State, Central Files, 768.5–MSP/5–1055)
  4. Reference is to telegram 947 to Belgrade, May 23, in which the Department indicated the general topics which should be included on the agenda of the discussions. (Ibid., 668.00/5–2355)