126. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Expression of concern by Yugoslav Ambassador regarding House-approved version of Section 143 of Mutual Security Act1


  • The Secretary
  • The Yugoslav Ambassador
  • Robert M. McKisson (EE)

During the course of his call on the Secretary this afternoon, Ambassador Mates referred to the recent action of the House of Representatives restoring the provision in Section 143 of the Mutual Security Act which would require the President to make a finding, within 90 days of enactment, with respect to Yugoslavia’s independence. Emphasizing that his Government took a most serious view of this provision as a prerequisite for further Mutual Security assistance, the Ambassador stated that retention of such a requirement would have a very harmful effect upon US-Yugoslav relations and would be extremely offensive to Yugoslav sensibilities. The House action was especially unfortunate in the view of his Government, coming as it did at a time when Yugoslavia was under severe political and propaganda attack from the Soviet bloc countries. The Ambassador said that Yugoslavia had stood firm against these attacks and was determined to maintain its independent position at all costs. He added, however, that if Section 143, as approved by the House, were finally adopted by the Congress, such action would only seriously handicap Yugoslavia in its defense of its independence and that, in these circumstances, he was convinced that his Government would be forced to forego further Mutual Security assistance, just as it had previously decided to give up highly-valued military assistance.

Ambassador Mates said he clearly understood that, under the US system of government, the Executive Branch could not dictate to the [Page 334] Legislative Branch. He hoped, however, that the Department would exert every appropriate effort to persuade Congressional leaders against the retention of the House-approved version of Section 143.

In responding to the Ambassador’s remarks, the Secretary stated that the Administration was itself opposed to the provisions adopted by the House and would seek their deletion in the course of the further legislative process. He indicated that, while he was not in a position to predict the final outcome, he was hopeful that the Administration’s view would prevail. The Secretary explained that, as a matter of effective tactics, the Department’s efforts in this regard would be focused upon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s consideration of the legislation. If the Senate approved legislation omitting the requirement inserted by the House, the way would then be open in final Senate-House conference to endeavor to persuade the House conferees to accept the Senate version of the law.

Ambassador Mates thanked the Secretary for his statement of the Department’s attitude on this question and said that he would report it at once to his Government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 768.5–MSP/5–2058. Official Use Only. Drafted by McKisson.
  2. Section 143 of the Mutual Security Act required the President to suspend aid to Yugoslavia if the Tito government failed to maintain any of three criteria: 1) independence from the Soviet Union; 2) nonparticipation in Communist plans of conquest; and 3) if aid to Yugoslavia continued to be in the national security interests of the United States. The President was instructed to monitor continuously the Yugoslav situation and keep Congress informed. For text of Section 143 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954 as amended, approved August 14, 1957, see 71 Stat. 355. The Mutual Security Act of 1958, approved June 30, 1958, maintained the provisions of Section 143 of the 1957 bill. For text of the 1958 version, see 72 Stat. 261.