265. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Department of State 1
Dulte 56. Eyes only Ambassador. For Acting Secretary from Secretary. Distribution as determined by Acting Secretary. Following dinner Tito and I talked alone. He spoke for several minutes about his relations with Soviet Union, saying that having once been in their [Page 700] clutches he would never risk getting there again, and that he thought that that should be evident. He was a frank man and spoke what he believed. He could not understand that there were those who seemed to feel he was following a policy of duplicity. I said I had never had any doubt as to complete integrity of his policy and his unwillingness to get back again into clutches of Soviet Union.
I said principal difficulty in United States arose from Catholics who felt he was persecuting their religion. I asked whether it was not true there was very large freedom of religion. He said there was and that Catholics, Moslems and Orthodox all had complete freedom. He said the trouble arose about Stepinac, who was definitely proved to be a collaborator with Germans and who had been condemned to ten years and whom he had released after four, and he was now free and serving in a church.2 He could go to Rome if he wished. (In connection with this matter, Tito showed first sign of emotionalism he had exhibited during entire visit. He spoke with considerable heat.)
In riding to airfield with Popovic, we referred to our conversation with President Tito. Popovic said most important aspect of our talk had been my recognition of fact that advent of more peaceful prospects, while it brought about a certain loosening of ties as between non-Soviet bloc countries, also brought about very considerable pressures for change within Soviet bloc. He said his government was probably in better position to appreciate this than most others and they were very conscious of this fact. But very few other people seemed to realize pressures within Soviet bloc which were weakening its cohesion.
He asked about my talk with Franco.3 I said we had principally talked about Morocco and I had urged importance of French and Spanish trying to work out a common program. In this connection, I said I thought Pinay 4 was showing good qualities and a better grasp of colonial problem and need for changing old French policy than any of his predecessors.
Popovic spoke of Near East and of Baghdad Pact. He said he recognized full well the UK more than US had been pushing this latterly. I said that original concept of “northern tier” had been developed by me when I was in area some two and half years ago. In meanwhile, of course, there had been some changes and US had not been at all active in pushing pact and adherence of Iraq and Iran. I doubted however this inclusion of Iraq had any material bearing [Page 701] upon Arab-Israel situation or arms deal with Czechoslovakia. Popovic asked whether Molotov had indicated any particular desire to find an accommodation on Near East situation. I said I had not detected any such desire. I had spoken to Molotov three times, but in each case he had attempted shrug off matter saying it was purely commercial transaction and had no political implications and he did not feel there was any cause to be concerned. Popovic said they recognized the situation was so delicate the injection of any new factor could be quite disturbing. I said we did not deny legal right of Russia to sell or Egypt to buy but that to inject a lot of new arms into situation was as irresponsible as giving lethal weapon to children to play with. I felt there was very great danger now in situation.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/11–855. Secret. Repeated to Belgrade.↩
- Aloysius Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in October 1946, on charges of collaboration with the Germans. He was granted a conditional release in December 1951.↩
- Secretary Dulles visited Spain on November 1 and met with General Franco and other Spanish officials.↩
- Antoine Pinay, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.↩