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Trieste (London Talks)

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the official talks on Trieste which are taking place in London.

Yes, Sir. As has already been announced, Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government have agreed to examine jointly with the Italian Government arrangements in zone A of the Free Territory of Trieste with a view to reaching a closer collaboration in the zone amongst themselves and with the local authorities in the spirit of the friendly relations which unite them in the Atlantic Alliance. The talks are expected to begin in London in a day or two.

I am glad of this opportunity to make it clear that these talks will be solely concerned with administrative arrangements in zone A, which is under Anglo-American military government, and that there is no question of discussing the future of the Free Territory as a whole.

As regards this wider issue, Her Majesty's Government are most anxious to see a solution of the whole Trieste problem. It is our view that this can best be brought about by direct conversations between the Italian and Yugoslav Governments. We have done our best to encourage such conversations for some months past.

While appreciating the Foreign Secretary's reply, and the fact that this is a matter for Anglo-American co-operation, might I ask him whether Yugoslavia will be allowed to participate in these talks at the appropriate time, in view of their interest in the Slovene and other minorities in zone A?

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he put his question. Of course, the Yugoslav Government will be informed of the progress of these discussions; but what we are actually dealing with is a purely administrative problem, as the hon. Gentleman understands, within this zone. I think we must get ahead with it on this more limited basis, but I have undertaken to keep the Yugoslav Government informed of the progress we make—at least, I hope that there will be some progress to inform them about.

Were the Yugoslav Government informed of the intention to hold the conference and of the scope of the discussions? If not, would it not have been much wiser to have given them that information?

We informed them as soon as we could—that is, at the moment we knew that there would be conversations. There was an agreed communique, but clearly I could not inform them until I had had the results of the approaches I had made in Washington and in Rome. The moment we knew of that result we informed them. I could not inform them before I knew that there was going to be a result.