135. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Greene
  • Yugoslavia
    • Foreign Minister Popovic


  • Various

The Foreign Minister said he would be returning to Belgrade in about ten days but had wanted to take an opportunity to describe briefly to the Secretary the major elements of Yugoslavia’s present situation.

Relations with Italy and Austria are satisfactory and good progress is being made in working out questions left over from the war.1 Relations with Yugoslavia’s Eastern neighbors are, however, bad and getting worse. Recent agitation of the minority questions between Yugoslavia and some, like Bulgaria, had aggravated this situation, which the Foreign Minister thought would continue. All this he ascribed not to ideological issues but to practical and political issues. At the heart of these is that Yugoslavia has refused to knuckle under to the Soviets and the bloc, as the Soviets had hoped.

Now the economic agreements which Yugoslavia had with the Soviet Union, and which had an essential part in maintenance of the Yugoslav economy, have been denounced. Nonetheless, the maintenance of Yugoslav independence is in the Yugoslav Government’s view still an important element of international stability. The question arises whether the United States can help fill the gap.

The Secretary explained that our availabilities for economic assistance are less now than they have been in the past. Nonetheless, he assured the Foreign Minister, the United States is sympathetic to Yugoslavia’s position and will sympathetically study Yugoslavia’s needs.

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The Secretary solicited the Foreign Minister’s views on the relations between the Soviets and the Chicoms particularly with respect to the Far East. Are the Soviets pushing the Chicoms, or are the latter pulling the Soviets along? The Foreign Minister thought that the Soviets are not a moderating element—for example, Khrushchev’s latest letter to the President.2 While the Chicoms do not readily accept Soviet ideological leadership, there are no current major ideological differences between the two, largely because common interests hold the two governments together.

Responding to the Secretary’s query, the Foreign Minister thought that Khrushchev does not, in the Soviet Union, exercise one-man power to the extent that Stalin did. Indeed Khrushchev’s position is not at all to be compared with Stalin’s. He is trying to consolidate his position but there is opposition, and the Stalinist opposition finds support from government and party leaders in the satellites of Eastern Europe who owe their own positions to Stalin. The Secretary expressed his mistrust of Khrushchev, whose temperament he thought dangerous; the Foreign Minister concurred in part but thought that not all that Khrushchev does is for the worse and that he in some instances is a restraining influence on others.

In a separate conversation with Mr. Greene, the Foreign Minister mentioned that on his way home from New York he will stop in London to repay Selwyn Lloyd’s visit to Belgrade of last year.3 He said that Yugoslavia’s relations with Britain are generally good these days, despite some difficult problems.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Greene. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Astoria. Popovic was in the United States to attend the 13th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. A note on the source text indicates the conversation took place in French.
  2. Reference is to outstanding Yugoslav claims against these two states over boundaries and reparations for damage caused by Italian and Austrian troops during the occupation of Yugoslavia in World War II.
  3. On September 7 Soviet Premier Khrushchev wrote President Eisenhower accusing the United States of precipitating a crisis in the Taiwan Straits. The text of the Khrushchev letter and Eisenhower’s reply is in Department of State Bulletin, September 29, 1958, pp. 498–503.
  4. British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd visited Yugoslavia September 4–8, 1957. Popovic visited London October 28–30, 1958.