186. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US-Yugoslav Relations


  • Foreign
    • Ambassador Bogdan Crnobrnja of Yugoslavia
  • United States
    • Governor Harriman
    • Orme Wilson, Jr., EUR/EE, Yugoslav Affairs

Ambassador Crnobrnja’s call on Governor Harriman was an initial courtesy call made at Ambassador Crnobrnja’s request.

Governor Harriman welcomed Ambassador Crnobrnja and recalled his friendly and fruitful association with President Tito which had begun during the Second World War. The Governor next discussed his previous meeting with Ambassador Crnobrnja which had taken place in 1965 when Governor Harriman visited Tito at Brioni and Ambassador Crnobrnja was Secretary General to Tito.2

Governor Harriman then expressed appreciation of Yugoslavia’s initiative and effort directed at encouraging movement toward a Near East settlement.3

The Governor then commented on the very significant role Yugoslavia had played in shaping the course of relations between countries in the Socialist Camp. In this connection, Governor Harriman regarded the terms under which Yugoslavia reentered into normal relations with the USSR in 1956 as equally significant politically as Tito’s break with Stalin in 1948. Governor Harriman expanded on this by saying that the terms of Yugoslavia’s reentry into normal relations with the USSR were Yugoslavia’s terms of independence—political, military, economic and ideologic, and that the pattern of these has increasingly set the pattern for relations desired by other Eastern European countries with the USSR.

Ambassador Crnobrnja was obviously pleased to hear this. He then asked the Governor’s opinion regarding the thesis being put forward in [Page 500] some quarters that, as US–USSR relations develop favorably, US interest in Yugoslavia declines.

The Governor answered that this thesis was wrong. He said that favorable development of US-Soviet relations increased opportunities for better relations between the US and Yugoslavia as well as between the US and other Eastern European countries. Governor Harriman explained that Yugoslavia, as a member of the Socialist Camp, was more or less obliged to side with the USSR when major issues arose between the US and the USSR. The Governor continued that, in such instances, US-Yugoslav relations could suffer setbacks.

Ambassador Crnobrnja immediately protested that, on issues between the US and the USSR, Yugoslavia had been entirely free and would remain entirely independent in making up its mind.

Ambassador Crnobrnja went on to say that President Tito had stressed the hope to him just before his departure for Washington that the US and the USSR would always appreciate the extraordinary responsibilities they shared regarding the vastly destructive weapons in their hands.

The Governor answered that this was very much the case and that Glassboro and the NPT were evidences of mutual US–USSR concern in this regard.4 The Governor added that he doubted the Russians would again want to face a showdown of the sort they brought upon themselves by their Cuban gamble.

When the conversation turned to Viet-Nam, Governor Harriman emphasized the very large turnout for the recent elections in South Viet-Nam.5 He also expressed the hope that Yugoslavia would use its best offices to encourage meaningful negotiations directed at ending the conflict.

When the subject of Yugoslav-FRG relations arose, Ambassador Crnobrnja said that the door was open unconditionally on the Yugoslav side for resumption of diplomatic relations. Ambassador Crnobrnja indicated that there had been some talks on this subject and that the ball was in Bonn’s court.

At the close, Governor Harriman said that, although he did not have any day to day operating responsibility connected with US-Yugoslav relations, he would always be ready to receive Ambassador Crnobrnja should matters arise on which he might be interested.

Before saying good-bye, the Governor showed Ambassador Crnobrnja some photographs in his office which had been taken with President Tito and Madame Broz on Vanga.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 17 YUGO–US. Confidential. Drafted by Wilson and approved in S/AH on October 5. The meeting was held in Harriman’s office.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of their July 28, 1965, meeting was sent to the Department of State as an attachment to airgram A–05 from Belgrade, July 30, 1965. (Ibid., POL 7 US/HARRIMAN) The discussion centered on the Vietnam war.
  3. See Document 184.
  4. For documentation on the Johnson-Kosygin summit meeting at Glassboro, New Jersey, June 22 and 24, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIV.
  5. September 4.