116. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • US-Yugoslav Relations


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Marko Nikezic, Yugoslav Ambassador
  • Mr. Robert C. Mudd, EE

Ambassador Nikezic called on the Secretary by appointment at 3:30 p.m. on January 8. After a brief exchange of amenities the Ambassador began the conversation by thanking the Secretary for the decision to proceed with the negotiations on PL 480 assistance. He said the food made available to Yugoslavia under the agreement just concluded was of great assistance to his country. The Secretary replied that the US was happy to be able to proceed on this matter despite opposition in some quarters to US assistance in any form. After outlining in some detail the basis of Yugoslavia’s foreign policy, Ambassador Nikezic informed the Secretary that he was leaving Washington on January 15 to return to Belgrade for a period of three to four weeks consultation. He said he was certain that on his return he would be asked by Yugoslav authorities about the extent to which the US is prepared to accept Yugoslavia as a non-aligned country which is pursuing an independent foreign policy. He said Belgrade would also be interested in the US attitude towards Yugoslavia’s requests for further economic assistance.

The Secretary replied that Yugoslavia’s independence is just as important in the US view now as it has always been in the past. The US does not expect Yugoslavia to side with the West. Yugoslavia’s non-alignment, and for that matter the non-alignment of other countries, is satisfactory to the United States. From time to time as US-Yugoslav relations develop one is likely to touch on an exposed nerve of the other. That there are differences between the US and Yugoslavia is a political fact of life. We have, for example, different views on Berlin, and Cuba, which the Yugoslavs regard in a different light, is of special concern to the US. These differences, however, do not place any insurmountable obstacles in the way of the development of positive and friendly relations. The underlying fact of importance is that Yugoslavia is working out its own national future as it sees fit.

[Page 253]

As far as economic assistance is concerned, the Secretary said that the organization of the new agency AID and the necessity to take into account new legislation had slowed down consideration of Yugo-slavia’s requests. We are currently engaged in a review of all of our continuing economic programs, including those of several allied countries, such as Norway, Denmark, Greece, and Turkey. We want to make our future programs more efficient by profiting from the experience of the last fifteen years. As the Ambassador is undoubtedly aware, many new demands are being made on US assistance resources, particularly from the under-developed areas. We hope to have a decision soon on the Yugoslav requests which must be weighed against those of other countries and in the light of the total resources available.

Subsequently, during the course of the conversation Ambassador Nikezic made the following points: (1) the USSR had opposed the calling of the Belgrade Conference and had worked actively through Guinea and Cuba to sabotage it; (2) Yugoslavia should be accepted for itself and not as an instrument to be used in the cold war; and (3) he agreed with the Secretary’s point that the US and Yugoslavia should find ways to cooperate on things which they have in common and to insulate themselves where they do not.

The Secretary observed at one point that he felt the Yugoslavs had a tendency to regard the USSR as sensitive and the US as not. For this reason, Yugoslavia tends to take the US too much for granted too often. The point is, he said, that the US should not be pushed too far. Ambassador Nikezic remarked wryly that after the Belgrade Conference he did not believe that the Yugoslavs would be inclined soon again to abuse US tolerance.

In closing the discussion of US-Yugoslav relations Ambassador Nikezic said that the Yugoslavs had analyzed US actions during and after the Belgrade Conference. He had discussed US reaction to the Belgrade Conference with Foreign Minister Popovic during his last visit to this country. They had concluded that Yugoslavia’s action at the time of the Conference had been interpreted in this country as evidence of a shift in Yugoslav foreign policy. He wished to emphasize that no shift had taken place in Yugoslav foreign policy. The truth of this assertion, he declared, would be borne out by an objective analysis of Soviet-Yugoslav relations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.68/1–1262. Confidential. Drafted by Mudd on January 12 and approved in S on January 18.