149. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Call by the Yugoslav Foreign Secretary: US-Yugoslav relations and the general international situation


  • The Secretary
  • The Yugoslav Foreign Secretary, Mr. Koca Popovic
  • The Yugoslav Ambassador, Mr. Nikezic
  • Mr. James S. Sutterlin, EE

Mr. Popovic opened his conversation with the Secretary on October 5 by stating that in his view relations between Yugoslavia and the US have been continually improving and that mutual understanding between our two countries has grown to the point where our relations can now be characterized as entirely satisfactory. Mr. Popovic added that there was, in his opinion, every prospect of continuing good relations between our two countries. The Yugoslav Foreign Secretary then went on to say that his Government is pleased with the general development which is taking place at the present time in the field of international relations. [Page 389] With all modesty, he said, Yugoslavia feels that it has contributed some small amount to the lessening of tension which has become noticeable. His country, he emphasized, desires to do whatever it can to encourage further relaxation in world tensions. In this connection, he asked the Secretary for his views on the significance of Mr. Khrushchev’s visit to the US and the new developments in Soviet-American relations.1 The Secretary replied that the significance of such an event as Mr. Khrushchev’s visit cannot be immediately judged and it will take several years before we can really estimate its effect. He said that he was convinced that Mr. Khrushchev was sincere in at least one respect and this was concerning the onerous nature of nuclear armament expenses. That he was a dedicated Communist there could be no doubt and he seemed firmly convinced that Communism is the system of the future. While there was undoubtedly much propaganda content in his statements here, the Secretary said that he felt that there was a grain of sincerity in his proposals on disarmament.

The Secretary then commented that we have been particularly interested in observing the very different nature of Khrushchev’s visit to Communist China.2 He pointed to the unprecedented fact that there had been no communiqué issued by the two governments on Khrushchev’s departure and noted that in the speeches given by Khrushchev and Suslov there had been scarcely a mention of China as a country but only remarks on the Communist system of government. Particularly noteworthy the Secretary thought was the fact that the Russian leaders had, during their stay, indicated no support for China in its current conflict with India.3 The Secretary then said to Mr. Popovic that Yugoslavia can no doubt judge the situation better than the US. Mr. Popovic stated that even on the basis of a conservative analysis it was necessary to conclude that there are differences between Communist China and the Soviet Union. It is very evident, he said, that the Soviet and Chinese attitudes toward India, Yugoslavia and the United Arab Republic, for example, are far from identical; but, he added, it is difficult to estimate the seriousness of disagreements between the two countries. In the Yugoslav view, he said, it is obviously in their mutual interest to continue to cooperate [Page 390] and therefore Yugoslavia does not expect a serious break between them in the near future.

The Yugoslav Foreign Secretary remarked that his Government has been happy to notice an amelioration in its relations with the Soviet Union. He felt that the improvement in the Soviet attitude toward Yugoslavia was based on two considerations: (1) the anti-Yugoslav campaign conducted by the Soviet Union and its bloc had begun to have negative effects on Soviet relations with uncommitted countries in Asia and Africa; and (2) at a time when the Soviet Union is endeavoring to give a very positive orientation to its public posture it was illogical and counter-productive to pursue an overtly negative policy toward Yugoslavia. Mr. Popovic continued that while Yugoslavia recognizes the reasons behind the changed Soviet attitude for what they are, it considers the results very real and therefore as a favorable turn in events. We believe, he said, that it is necessary to utilize the positive elements in a situation and we take the same attitude toward current Soviet interest in disarmament and détente.

Later in the conversation the Secretary referred to the draft Fulbright Agreement4 which the American Embassy in Belgrade had presented some months ago to the Yugoslav Foreign Secretariat for consideration. He said that the fact that we had received no comments on this draft from the Secretariat was quite probably due to the summer vacation, but he wondered if Mr. Popovic had any thoughts or objections concerning such an agreement which he would like to express. The Yugoslav Foreign Secretary did not appear to be aware of the status of negotiations on a Fulbright Agreement but stated that in general, while technical difficulties often arise in such negotiations, the attitude of the Yugoslav Government was positive. The Yugoslav Ambassador said that he would cable to Belgrade on the subject so that the matter could be looked into before Mr. Popovic’s return to Yugoslavia.

At the close of his meeting with Mr. Popovic, the Secretary related how when he was traveling in Yugoslavia as a member of Congress in 1945 a young lady from Politika had been assigned to accompany him. He said that she had been educated at the Sorbonne and at Moscow and was a most articulate and persuasive person although she was entirely oriented against the US. The Secretary said that he had lost her name which he regretted since he had told her that he would like for her to see for herself the US and then judge if all of her conclusions were correct. This, he said, was in August or September of 1945. The girl, he added, was the wife of the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, was from Montenegro and had taken a prominent part as a Partisan leader in the war. [Page 391] Mr. Popovic said that there had been many such women and that as a result identification would be difficult, remarking in this connection that President Tito’s wife had, herself, been a Partisan and had fought under his command.

In taking his leave Mr. Popovic wished the Secretary good luck and health in carrying out his arduous duties. He said that he hoped they might meet again in New York at the UN or in Washington.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/10–559. Confidential. Drafted by Sutterlin and approved in S on October 9.
  2. Khrushchev visited the United States September 15–27. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 18, he unveiled a new Soviet disarmament proposal that called for general and complete disarmament. His meetings with President Eisenhower at Camp David, September 25–27, resulted in a general improvement in the tenor of Soviet-U.S. relations. For documentation, see Part 1, Documents 108–139.
  3. September 29–October 4.
  4. Disagreements over boundaries between the two states in the Ludatik and Lorgju areas led to armed clashes in Lorgju and a heated exchange of correspondence between Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai and Indian Prime Minister Nehru.
  5. Not found.
  6. No further record of conversation between Herter and Popovic has been found.