205. Telegram From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to President Reagan1



  • My Visit to Yugoslavia.
(S) I have just concluded a 24 hour visit to Yugoslavia, during which I found the Yugoslavs to be very warm and gracious and obviously pleased to have me visit. I might add that they are also an intensely patriotic group, very frank in their dealings, and deeply proud of their neutral, non-aligned status. They were also extremely adaptable as weather prevented us landing at Belgrade as planned, and we diverted to the coastal city of Dubrovnic on the Adriatic Sea. I met with my counterpart, Admiral Mamula, and his key staff, laid a wreath at the tomb and memorial of former President Tito in Belgrade, and concluded my visit with a one hour meeting with President Petar Stambolic. He was very grateful for your letter2 and expressed great satisfaction at its content. The general substance of our conversations and discussions in Yugoslavia follow.
(S) Political: Yugoslavia is deeply committed to its neutral and non-aligned status. While they are acutely aware that some of their policies will not coincide at all times with ours, they are nevertheless appreciative that we are willing to accept Yugoslavia in the non-aligned role. They have great hopes for a settlement of the Middle East crisis and appear appreciative of your Mid-East initiative3 and the efforts of Phil Habib. [Page 595] They indicated that Yassir Arafat, President Mubarak, Mengistu and Quaddafi had all been to Belgrade in the recent past and seemed hopeful that elements of our Mid-East proposal and the Fez proposals could be brought together into a proposal that both sides could accept. They indicated that Libya and Ethiopia wanted better relations with the United States. President Stambolic indicated that during his recent visit to Moscow for the Brezhnev funeral, he had met with Andropov to reiterate the basis of Yugoslavian-Soviet relations—complete independence and non-alignment. He did not characterize the response if indeed there was one from Andropov. On several occaions he characterized Yugoslav-U.S. relations as having been on an upward trend since the war, with only a few “oscillations.”
(S) Economic: President Stambolic went into some detail regarding their economic condition, which he termed serious. He was quick to point out, however, that the leaders and people of Yugoslavia had charted a course for the next several years to get their fiscal house in order by themselves. The people had just taken a ten percent reduction in their standard of living, rationing of petrol and electricity was obvious in the city, and their banking institutions were undergoing some changes to make them more efficient. He was particularly pleased with the help of the United States and other Western banks and again referred to the content of your letter as being the hand of friendship and understanding. Admiral Mamula spent some time discussing reciprocal trade balances between the United States and Yugoslavia. Although most of the imbalance was in the military area, he made a general plea for the United States and the West to buy additional goods from his country. They are obviously proud of their industrial capability and the sophistication they have achieved.
(S) Security/Military: It is obvious the Yugoslavs want to end their dependence on the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact for their military equipment and munitions. They want to increase activity between our two countries in this area and are aware of our concerns regarding safeguarding our military technology, a concern which we reemphasized repeatedly. They assured us several times that the threat to Yugoslavia was from the east and north and not from the west. Whatever technology the United States provided would be closely held, and they expressed their willingness to enter into whatever kind of terms or agreement which would satisfy our concerns. They realized there would be some technology we simply would not be able to provide, and they would accept a straightforward “no” on those technologies we considered to be highly sensitive. They asked us to assist them [Page 596] in building a new supersonic fighter, realizing it would be several years (early 1990s) before they could afford to do so. But planning had to begin soon on the general size, performance and capability of such an aircraft. They also stated their interest (in fact Admiral Mamula told me “they had decided to buy—we have made our decision”) in purchasing the Northrop F–5G2 aircraft as the first step in modernizing their air force. They have never purchased an aircraft from the United States and made it very clear that Soviet equipment is the least desirable for Yugoslavia. They have formally requested briefings from the manufacturer of the F–5G2 at our earliest convenience and will thereafter submit a request for the first twenty (20) F–5G2, if we can work out the details. We agreed in principle to permit the sale of this aircraft, subject to adequate technology safeguards and suitable financing arrangements. I believe it likely that Yugoslavia may well ask for information regarding Foreign Military Sales credits.
(C) Finally, I believe this was a significant visit in that it came at a critical time when Yugoslavia is attempting to overcome its economic difficulties, is gearing up for what promises to be a tough belt-tightening period, and is in need of strong support, both morally and materially in the years ahead. The Embassy will be following up with a more detailed report and analysis of the visit. I was assured, however, by both our Ambassador (who is doing an extremely effective job and is very well liked and respected), and by Admiral Mamula that they felt the visit had gone exceptionally well and had been most useful.
Cap Weinberger
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Agency File, Department of Defense (10/29/1982–12/05/1982). Secret. Sent for information to Clark, Shultz, and Carlucci. Sent while Weinberger was aboard a Special Air Mission. Poindexter wrote in the upper right hand corner of the telegram, “W[illiam] C[lark] said in Pres’ wkly report. JP.” A stamped notation indicates that it was received in the White House Situation Room on December 4 at 9:30 p.m.
  2. See Document 204.
  3. See Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, vol. II, pp. 1093–1097; and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XIX, Arab-Israeli Dispute.