Page 1, 18th December 1970

18th December 1970
Page 1
Page 1, 18th December 1970 — visit off: Row with Italy

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Organisations: Italian government
Locations: Belgrade, Trieste, Rome


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visit off: Row with Italy

POPE, PAUL and President Tito of Yugoslavia were to have met last Saturday, but because the President suddenly postponed a state visit to Italy, a similar one to the Vatican was also put off.

President Tito abruptly called off his visit after the Italian foreign minister, Signor Aldo Moro, had announced that joint talks to take place between Italy and Yugoslavia would not include the territorial question concerning a frontier area in and around Trieste, on the Italy-Yugoslav border.

"The Italian government," Signor Moro replied to a neoFascist, "will not consider relinquishing any legitimate interests."

Belgrade considered the remarks offensive. Postponement of President Tito's visit was announced only the day before he was due in a flag-bedecked Rome—December 10.

After the First World War, Italy annexed territories in Northwest Yugoslavia and along the Adriatic coast. Yugoslavia got most of these back in the Second World War, but in 1954, the allies gave 91 square miles of the free territory of Trieste to Italy and 202 square miles to Yugoslavia, BORDER ISSUE Both countries had since agreed that disputes over the dividing lines between the two territories should be resolved by a joint agreement.

Last Friday, the Vatican and Yugoslavia officially postponed President Tito's meeting with the Pope.

The Italian government is naturally upset about the sudden cancellation, as Yugoslav relations have been a source of pride in their foreign policy. Another factor is that the visit was strongly opposed by the neo-Fascists, who must consider this a victory.

PROJECTS President Tito was to have discussed projects involving Italian economic help for Yugoslavia which would strengthen and stabilise relations on the Adriatic coast. The Yugoslav communique which announced the cancellation emphasised that President Tito hoped the talks would take place as soon as possible and that present friendly relations would not be impaired.

President Tito would have been the first communist head of state to be received, officially, by the Holy See. His meeting with the Pope would have given them an opportunity to discuss the recent establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Yugoslavia. Yugoslav's first ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Vjekoslav Cyrlje, presented his credentials to Pope Paul on November 12. The Pope said the significance of the occasion deserved to be emphasised and it was what his predecessor, Pope John, would have been pleased to call "a sign of the times."

President Tito was also to have repaid a visit that the Italian President, Giuseppe Saragat, made last year to Belgrade.

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