71. Memorandum of Conversation, Belgrade, November 4, 1974, 12:45 p.m.1 2


Memorandum of Conversation


  • Meeting with President Tito Prior to Lunch

DATE: Nov. 4, 1974 PLACE: White Palace


TIME: 12:45 p.m.


  • Yugoslavian:
  • Josip Broz Tito, President
  • Edward Kardelj (Member of the State Presidency of the League of Communists)
  • Foreign Secretary Milos Minic
  • Ambassador Granfil
  • Deputy Secretary Mojsov
  • North American Director Starcevic
  • Mrs. Tambaca, Interpreter
  • US:
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador TOON
  • Counselor Sonnenfeldt Assistant Secretary Hartman

Distribution: S, S/S, WH (General Scowcroft)

TITO: I wish to welcome you to Belgrade today even though I recognize that this is only a short visit. It is also some time since you have been here. The last time I believe on President Nixon’s trip.

SECRETARY: It is too short a period but we should have a good opportunity to exchange views. I want to thank you for your warm reception. I have already had very useful talks.

TITO: Yes, I know. With the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister.

[Page 2]

SECRETARY: I would like to leave to you, Mr. President, what we talk about.

TITO: It is difficult to know where to start. There are so many problems. How about bilateral issues?

SECRETARY: Whatever is most on the mind of the President.

TITO: As far as bilateral issues are concerned, the Prime Minister has told you we wish to have good relations and we think it is possible to do this in spite of certain problems that arise.

SECRETARY: That is correct.

TITO: Our relations were good before and after the war but recently there seem to have been some difficulties which I am sure we will overcome and return to those same traditional good relations. We shall certainly do our part but you must understand that we cannot renounce our principles but we can always discuss specific issues. I think the major issue before us today is the Middle East. Naom Goldman was here recently—this is about the 4th time he has come since the ’67 war. In our last encounter he was very worried and when he returned to Israel, he sent me a message. In this message he asked me to convey two messages on his behalf—one to Sadat and one to Assad. He would like to meet them. I will, of course, convey these messages.

We are, of course, interested in how the situation develops and we too have been [Page 3] very worried. We will have more talks with the Arabs but it is our impression that they wish to freeze the situation.

SECRETARY: I agree. The situation cannot be frozen but all parties seem to be cooperating in freezing it. The Israelis never seem to know how to make concessions in time. I told them a year ago that they had to make a deal with Hussein and, if they had, we would not have had the whole difficulty at Rabat. I told them that this was the only way to get the Palestinians to deal with Hussein and thus make the PLO an Arab problem. I personally like Sadat and Assad. They are both good men. The trouble seems to me to be that Arabs can never make up their minds whether they want to make policy or epic poetry. The necessities of the present situation are to deal with concrete issues and not vague concepts. I will make sure that the United States keeps bringing its influence to bear to make progress.

TITO: The United States can do the most.

SECRETARY: We are the only ones who can help at this juncture. Every time I see Gromyko he has ten principles, twenty subheads and fifty articles of an agreement but he can never tell me how he would get the agreement accepted. Each Soviet proposal involves getting the United States to agree to something. They then tell the Arabs and get the credit from them and we are supposed to be the [Page 4] ones who get the proposal carried out. This is why we have more or less acted alone. We want to see progress in the negotiations.

TITO: I don’t know exactly what the present situation is but I have a feeling that relations between Sadat and Assad are better. It is also my impression that the Arabs intend to get their territory back. On the other hand, the Israelis seem to have difficulty with accepting even the proposal of withdrawal.

SECRETARY: As far as the Israelis are concerned, there appears to be no movement at the present time. The Syrians want to negotiate but the Israelis do not wish to negotiate with them. The Israelis do however wish to negotiate with Sadat. This puts Sadat in an impossible position. I agree with you. I think Assad is a reasonable man.

TITO: He is realistic. He is not a man you cannot talk to.

SECRETARY: If the Israelis were more realistic they could have made an arrangement with Assad. Frankly, I can assure you we will not cooperate in a policy that isolates any Arab state. On the other hand, the Arabs have been mistaken to be so explicit on the PLO at this time. We had the Israeli agreement to give back part of the West Bank. They were prepared to negotiate. The time to have raised the PLO issue would have been after this was accomplished, not before. Rabat has given the Israelis a good excuse to do nothing. It was a bad tactical decision.

[Page 5]

KARDELJ: But the Palestine problem is more of an inter-Arab problem.

SECRETARY: Yes, but it is a mistake to make this issue so public. They should have let things go and determined the ultimate position on the PLO next year. But there is no sense talking about the past. Everyone behaved in a manner designed to create difficulties during this last summer and this coincided of course with our change in Presidents so we couldn’t act.

TITO: Now it is getting very late. What effect do you think Rabat will have?

SECRETARY: I have to say that Sadat has been saying to me since last June that something must happen before the Arab Summit. What can be done? We will do our utmost to achieve progress and this is why I am going to the Middle East again. If there isn’t progress then we will all end up in Geneva and I can assure you there will be a stalemate.

TITO: Do you think the Israeli government put Goldman up to going to see Sadat and Assad?

SECRETARY: I don’t believe so. I doubt it.

TITO: In the old days Goldman wanted me to arrange meetings with Nasser.

SECRETARY: There is no harm in his seeing Sadat and Assad although I must say the first [Page 6] exposure to Assad can be an exciting experience. I don’t believe the Israeli government has authorized Goldman to see anyone. We have to move the Israeli government and this is where the Arabs have to help. If we want to avoid an explosion in the United States, we must avoid people putting forward total solutions. What this does is to maximize the chance of turning U.S. opinion against our government’s efforts. We are not asking you or others to give up your own positions but I believe that the Arab leaders now understand why we have to go step by step. Certainly Sadat understands. Assad would if the Israelis could just shut up. We are prepared to use pressure but we cannot survive unless we move on a step by step course.

KARDELJ: But if you move step by step can you do this in parallel on all the issues at the same time?

SECRETARY: We certainly cannot agree to separate final peace agreements. They would have to occur together. That would be out of the question. My personal judgment is that we must move one step at a time, country by country. We will assure that no Arab country is isolated. Our strategy is to deal with our opponents in the United States who say that Syria is a Soviet satellite—therefore anything involving Syria is especially difficult. In the next phase, we wish to have some movement on the Egyptian side and then begin on Syria. If the Arabs insist, we will try to deal with both countries at the same time. I can only give you my judgment as to what is feasible.

[Page 7]

TITO: Moving one by one has military implications. If you settle with one state, there is less chance of having to fight all of them together and I don’t believe any Arab country would agree to a separate peace.

SECRETARY: You are probably right. But I can also tell you that we will not tolerate an Israeli attack on any Arab state.

TITO: It is very important to settle this matter peacefully. It can be useful to Israel. After all, there is a tremendous gap between the advanced economy of Israel and that of its Arab neighbors. They should be helping each other.

SECRETARY: The trouble with Israel is that they can win battles but not the whole war— they cannot settle this matter using any strategic solution.

KARDELJ: Still there was a major change since the Arabs at Rabat accepted the existence of the State of Israel by confirming that only Gaza and the West Bank would become Palestinian.

MINIC: Israel should think over long and hard its extreme policies.

SECRETARY: You are right. The major adjustments are needed in Israel’s thinking. But there is a basic dilemma that they must face. Perhaps it is best illustrated by a story that my colleagues have heard many times. I met an Israeli who told [Page 8] me that he prays for my efforts and that he would give ten years of his life for peace. I said that my problem was trying to establish a line on the Golan Heights and asked him how many kilometers he would give for peace. He replied, not one meter. That is the dilemma—the Israelis want peace but they are not prepared to pay for it. Given this extremely difficult situation on all sides, it seems to us that everyone who wishes to see peace in the area should counsel restraint. If war should come, we would of course support Israel and the Soviets would support the Arabs. It reminds me very much of the Balkans in pre-WWI. All of our friends should urge restraint to avoid this situation from developing. We have to deal with the opposition in the United States and the opposition of Israel. Concretely, I will be back in the United States only one week before the President and I leave for Japan, Korea and Vladivostok. We cannot take on any more serious activity until both the President and I are back in the country at the same time. I am speaking very frankly to you—anyone can have a declaration.

Can we change the subject now? Could the President give me his thoughts on what is going on in the Soviet Union or would he rather not speak about it?

TITO: We don’t see any change. There was a good crop this year and there does not seem to be any misunderstanding or crisis. We feel that there is a consolidation [Page 9] in the internal situation. As you may know, Brezhnev is coming here, then perhaps we will know more. Otherwise our relations are good and you should not believe all the things you see in the boulevard press. There is nothing to the reports of continuing threats by the Soviet troops. The Soviets couldn’t try anything — they are too clever.

SECRETARY: They are probably more cautious than clever.

TITO: Our overall relationships with the Soviet Union are good. Trade is developing well and is now at the level of 1.4 billion. They are our second trading partner after the West Germans. I also think that they do not want a confrontation with the U.S. They are very interested in the CSCE and believe that will have repercussions on other questions because they will not wish to make any move that might compromise the results of that conference. I believe they also want peace in the Middle East because they know that without it it may lead to confrontation with the U.S.

SECRETARY: The Soviets cannot make a military move, especially in Yugoslavia without confronting the U.S. You should not pay any attention to rumors of our talking together or not taking actions. We will always react violently to any military moves on their side. But in terms of the present situation, we too want an atmosphere leading to the relaxation [Page 10] of tension. But we will not give up our basic interest even though we are in favor of improving relations.

TITO: Detente is useful because it makes it easier to solve problems and there are hundreds of them confronting us.

SECRETARY: Yes, we are not short of problems.

TITO: I would like to say a word about Italy today. We are interested in having good neighborly relations. Unfortunately, the private talks we were having have not reached any agreement because their government is so frail.

SECRETARY: Yes, they complicate life for all of us.

TITO: We feel that we may also have to help the Italians too.

SECRETARY: What we are seeking to establish is an institutional solution to the economic crisis which confronts all of the developed countries. Energy is only one aspect of the problem. I will make a proposal in the next month to deal with this great economic problem. It is no use for the Italians to borrow $2 billion from the Germans and then probably have to do the same thing again in a few months’ time.

TITO: Yes, Schmidt told me that it was difficult to convince public opinion in Germany to pay more taxes to give to Italy. He thought it might be as much as $6 billion.

[Page 11]

SECRETARY: Even $6 billion is only a deficit for one year.

TITO: Inflation is choking all of us.

SECRETARY: We will come up with a more comprehensive approach.

TITO: Will this deal with inflation?

SECRETARY: No, only indirectly. It will deal with the financial problem caused by the energy crisis.

TITO: We should not just look at the energy problem, but rather we should examine the question of all raw materials.

KARDELJ: There is a question of how to get out of the dilemma of confrontation. We need democratic international institutions to deal with all the problems by the developed and less-developed countries.

SECRETARY: You are right — these problems cannot be solved by confrontation. On the other hand, many of the problems that the developed countries face are internal. The deficits that Italy has in its balance of payments are more really a problem for the oil producers. We must, of course, always keep open the possibility of discussing these issues with producers but first we must have consumer cooperation so that we know what it is we wish to talk about. There is an old saying that, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. What good will high prices do for the producers if inflation is [Page 12] going to make all the things they wish to buy more expensive. Already the funds that they have earned are greatly depreciated. A reasonable solution must be in the interest of both the consumers and the producers.

TITO: The LDCs have suffered the most. They are the hardest hit. The U.S. and the Soviet Union less so.

SECRETARY: It is true that they have been badly hit, but they cannot just press to have the problem solved overnight.

KARDELJ: This just proves that the whole world system should be used to solve this problem by an institutional agreement.

SECRETARY: I will be making the same point when I speak tomorrow at the World Food Conference. We cannot solve this problem except by planning on a global basis. The paradox is that the U.S. favors global planning and the Soviet Union is in favor of a free market. We feel we have to allocate our scarce agriculture production in agreement with others who need to buy. The Soviet Union wishes to get into our market and buy up stocks through secret agreement. We cannot allow this. We need food for Egypt, Syria and India. We need information in advance from countries like the Soviet Union to see how much we have available to allocate.

MINIC: That could be a good way to proceed and we would think that similar ways could be found to move along the same lines. [Page 13] Perhaps also there could be some link with non-aligned states who would cooperate with such a system.

SECRETARY: On the food problem, I think the non-aligned countries will support what we are proposing but the same principles must be applied.

MINIC: This is the problem of integrating our economies in a world system in a time of crisis. We discussed these same issues at the Special Session of the General Assembly.

SECRETARY: The trouble with the Special Session was that it seemed to be based on a confrontation of the non-aligned countries and the developed countries. What we really need is a spirit of cooperation on both sides. The injustices that have grown up over the last century cannot be cured in a few years—even five years. An atmosphere of confrontation is not a good way to proceed.

MINIC: We think that the non-aligned countries favor cooperation not confrontation. What do you think are the special points of interest? We all want overall cooperation.

SECRETARY: Our idea, and we have expressed this in commenting on the Mexican proposal for a declaration of rights and duties, is that if the proposals are reasonable, we will support them but as the debate has gone on, the proposals have gotten more unreasonable and we may now be [Page 14] forced to vote against these proposals because they have been radically changed but basically we agree with the direction.

KARDELJ: The difficulty here is that we need to exercise more patience. Many of these countries are backward and have only recently emerged from colonial status. They have enormous problems and they are pressed by radical elements who want overnight progress.

SECRETARY: I think that is true.

KARDELJ: If we all work together this can be a pre-condition of a dialogue but we need to do something concrete to solve these problems. A few years ago no one believed detente would be possible but now it looks as though it may make some progress.

SECRETARY: You will see this same theme in the speech that I am going to make tomorrow.

MINIC: The less-developed countries feel that no one sufficiently understands the seriousness of their situation. That is the obstacle to cooperation. There is the same feeling among the LDC’s against the Socialist states and the Soviet Union.

KARDELJ: Yes, we have the same situation here.

SECRETARY: No. We recognize the problem. You will see in the speech I give tomorrow and you will also note that there will be strong criticism in the United States [Page 15] for what I am going to say. In fact, in preparing this speech I found that all the domestic agencies were opposed. This is the first time that the United States will have advocated global planning and allocation, as well as the development of reserves.

I am going to the Middle East after Rome and probably the criticism of my food speech will start while I am in the Middle East but they will probably understand better in the Middle East what I am trying to do. Dealing with the Middle Eastern problems is very difficult indeed but I particularly enjoy meetings with Assad. I recall my first encounter with him when we were talking about the problem of starting the Geneva talks. For three hours we discussed procedure and agenda and got it all settled. Then there was the question of the letter of invitation. The Israelis came back and asked for two changes in the letter and the Syrians accepted this. I began to wonder why everyone said it was so difficult to deal with the Syrians when in three hours’ time I had managed to settle all the outstanding issues. Then I made a fatal mistake and I asked Assad if there was anything in the letter that bothered him. He said that he agreed completely with the letter except for one sentence where it said that the parties would come to the Geneva Conference. He said the only thing wrong with the letter is I am not going to Geneva. But seriously I like him. He has great courage and he’s thoughtful.

[Page 16]

I talked to Foreign Minister Minic about the Cyprus situation. We support an independent sovereign Cyprus and we respect its territorial integrity. We think that realistically there will have to be a federal system based on some geographic principles. I am, of course, planning to go to Ankara where I hope to get some Turkish gestures that will improve the atmosphere and will enable the talks between Denktash and Clerides to continue.

TITO: I doubt very much that the Greeks will accept a geographic solution—they will only talk about a cantonal solution with a strong central government.

SECRETARY: Yes, there should be a strong central government if for no other reason than to control immigration. We are not opposed to a cantonal solution if the parties will agree to it. But I must tell you frankly that I don’t think a cantonal solution will be accepted. Let me also say that we had nothing to do with the coup against Makarios. There was no conceivable interest in our attempting to unsettle conditions in the eastern Mediterranean in July of 1974. We had great difficulty internally in our own country with the Presidential crisis and there were also difficulties in the Middle East. We certainly did not wish to cause an additional problem in the eastern Mediterranean. I can assure you that we were not aware of any coup planning. This whole matter has been a nuisance.

[Page 17]

TITO: The results were certainly bad.

SECRETARY: The results were predictable and there was no doubt that the Turks would move and we tried to prevent this.

TITO: We were not against the first move but later on we did not agree with Turkish actions.

SECRETARY: The first intervention made the second one inevitable.

MINIC: Also there was a failure at the Geneva Conference.

SECRETARY: We had Turkish agreement on August 8 and 9 to a cantonal plan but Mavros refused to discuss it.

TITO: Now even Makarious is interested in discussing it.

SECRETARY: If we could get now what was offered in the summer we would be called geniuses. The Turks wanted only a third of Famagusta but Mavros refused to accept any of this. Callaghan was so angry he wouldn’t talk about it. We couldn’t even find out what was going on. We asked for a delay of 72 hours. All this was going on while we were changing Presidents. Personally, I believe that some Turkish gestures will be given. Then after the election in Greece the situation can move toward a negotiated solution. Now it is impossible for Karamanlis to make concessions. But it is also not in Karamanlis’ [Page 18] interest to drag this problem on very much longer. I think Ecevit is a reasonable man. The objective conditions exist to make progress if there is a Turkish Government that can act.

KARDELJ: What about the extremists?

SECRETARY: Makarios should stay out of Cyprus until there is preliminary agreement. If you have influence, you should try to make him see things that way.

TITO: We have very good relations with him. He has agreed in principle to a political negotiation. I agree that it is probably better if he stays out.

SECRETARY: He talks about going back by the end of the month.

TITO: Yes, that is what he says.

SECRETARY: He is talking about resigning as President but staying on as spiritual leader. Personally, I think he is better qualified to be President than religious leader.

MINIC: He did support the UN resolution.

SECRETARY: Yes, he did. His major role should be to support the solution worked out by Clerides and Denktash. If he does that then it might be all right for him to go back.

TITO: He is not reticent to give advice. I can remember dealing with him at Lusaka.

Adjourn for Lunch.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff, Box 52, General Subject File, HAK European Trip 1974 (7) WH. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman. The meeting took place in the White Palace.
  2. President Tito and Secretary of State Kissinger met to discuss Yugoslav-U.S. bilateral relations, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union.