159. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Discussion with Yugoslav Ambassador Concerning US-Yugoslav Relations and International Situation


  • The Secretary
  • Mirko Nikezic, Yugoslav Ambassador
  • James S. Sutterlin, EE

Yugoslav Ambassador Nikezic called today at his request on the Secretary. He referred first to the fact that he had just returned from two months’ consultation in Belgrade and stated that, from his talks there with President Tito, Foreign Secretary Popovic and all other officials of the Yugoslav Government interested in foreign relations, it is clear that on the Yugoslav side conditions exist for the maintenance and further development of good relations between Yugoslavia and the US. He said that Yugoslavia’s interest in good relations with the US has increased rather than the contrary. From the conversations which Ambassador [Page 430] Rankin recently had with Tito and Foreign Secretary Popovic,1 he continued, the Yugoslav Government judges that on the US side conditions are also favorable for the further development of friendly relations. Ambassador Nikezic said that Yugoslavia has tended to give publicity to its opposition to any change in the status quo in Eastern Europe. It attributes equal importance, however, to the continued political “presence” of the US in Eastern Europe and would be greatly opposed to any lessening of this. The economic support which the US extends to Yugoslavia, he continued, is of great importance in itself and is developing in a highly satisfactory manner; but the Yugoslav Government considers it important from the political point of view as well, the Ambassador emphasized, as a manifestation of this US political “presence.”

Ambassador Nikezic next referred to Yugoslavia’s plans for a change in its economic relationship with other countries through a reform in its exchange system. He said that he had reviewed this in detail with Under Secretary Dillon2 and that the Yugoslav Government is looking forward to Mr. Dillon’s forthcoming visit to Yugoslavia3 so that it may have an opportunity to discuss the plan further with him and persuade him of its merits. Mr. Dillon will see President Tito, Vice President Todorovic and Foreign Secretary Popovic, Ambassador Nikezic said, and while primary attention will doubtless be paid to economic subjects, he thought that US-Yugoslav relations and the international political situation might also be raised with Mr. Dillon if he is willing to discuss them.

Turning to the current international situation, Ambassador Nikezic referred to the two, seemingly opposing, trends in Soviet policy which have emerged: on the one hand, an evident desire to increase tensions, and, on the other, a reaffirmation of the policy of coexistence and peace. Which, Ambassador Nikezic asked, does the Secretary consider to be the dominant trend? The Secretary replied that it is difficult to say but that in his opinion it is probably the latter, adding that the Soviets seem to wish to keep channels of communications open. As to Khrushchev’s performance in Paris,4 the Secretary said that he thought there was a real element of personal feeling toward the President involved as well as a conviction on Khrushchev’s part that he could not make any progress in [Page 431] Paris toward his goals in Germany. Ambassador Nikezic then queried the Secretary as to whether the US is prepared to give Khrushchev time to settle his domestic problems and his differences with the Chinese Communists and again negotiate with him at a later date when he is ready. The Secretary indicated that our policy remains the same and that we shall continue to try to find means of reducing tensions and establishing peace. In Geneva we still are endeavoring to make progress on disarmament and the cessation of nuclear testing.5 Unfortunately we have always run up against the same obstacle, that is, the question of inspection. In this connection the Secretary commented that he thought the U–2 incident was a real shock to the Soviets since he felt that until the plane was downed and the films developed the Soviets had no idea of how extensive our knowledge was of developments inside their country. Ambassador Nikezic noted that Soviet weakness in this connection should logically be attributed in the Soviet Union to the “generals” rather than to Khrushchev’s policy of coexistence.

Ambassador Nikezic next asked the Secretary whether in view of the failure of Summit diplomacy he expected the UN to become more active in the settlement of international problems. The Secretary answered that it may well, but that it is in many ways a difficult forum for serious negotiations. As an example he pointed to the fact that the Committee on Disarmament is composed of 82 members, many of whom have little or no knowledge of the technicalities of the subject. On the other hand, he said, there are many nations interested in the maintenance of the balance of power and who thus would approach the subject in a realistic manner. Elements of mistrust are bound to continue, the Secretary noted, as long as closed societies exist. Only through a system of inspection in which all nations may have confidence can this mistrust be overcome in our present-day world. The US for its part, the Secretary said, has nothing to hide, and indeed almost anything in the country can be photographed from commercial planes.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/6–2460. Confidential. Drafted by Sutterlin and approved in S on June 29.
  2. For reports of Rankin’s meeting with Tito, see Documents 156 and 157. Rankin met with Popovic on May 17 for discussions on Popovic’s visit to the Middle East and the failure of the Paris summit. The memorandum of this conversation is in Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/5–1860.
  3. See Document 153.
  4. Dillon was scheduled to visit Yugoslavia July 17–20 as part of a five-nation good will trip.
  5. Reference is to Khrushchev’s public demands that Eisenhower apologize for the U–2 incident and especially to Khrushchev’s conduct during his May 17 press conference.
  6. The Ten-Nation Disarmament Conference at Geneva had deadlocked after Western rejection of a Soviet plan for disarmament on June 16. On June 17 Frederick Eaton, the chief U.S. representative, returned to Washington for consultations.