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1953: Marshal Tito makes historic visit to London

Marshal Josef Tito of Yugoslavia has arrived in Britain, the first Communist head of state to visit the country.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden greeted him at Westminster at the start of his five-day visit.

He arrived by sea from Yugoslavia in the naval vessel Galeb (Seagull). He was then brought up river under Royal Navy escort.

Marshal Tito was invited to Britain last September by Mr Eden who was visiting Yugoslavia to strengthen ties between the two nations.

Talks this week are expected to centre on the aftermath of the recent death of Josef Stalin, who expelled Yugoslavia from the Cominform group of communist nations in 1948 for failing to adhere to Soviet policies.

Since that time Yugoslavia has come to rely on Western aid for certain foods and armaments.

They will also discuss ways of achieving a solution to the problem of the disputed region of Trieste, whose administration was divided last year between the United Nations and Yugoslavia.

Tight security

Security was tight as the occasion has been marked by a great deal of controversy, especially among those Yugoslav exiles who regard Marshal Tito as a dictator.

Spectators were kept well away from the River Thames embankment where the marshal disembarked this afternoon.

He shook hands with the Duke and made a short speech in faltering English greeting the people of Britain and expressing hope of mutual co-operation, understanding and peace.

"I wish to assure the peoples of Great Britain that they should consider the people of my country as their staunch allies because the people of the new Yugoslavia are striving towards the same ends as the people of Great Britain," he said.

He then inspected the Guard of Honour and was taken in a bullet-proof car escorted by police motorcyclists to Downing Street.

Later in the afternoon he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph and saluted Britain's war dead.

In Context
Marshall Josef Tito formed Communist Yugoslavia in 1945.

He maintained Yugoslavia's independence from the USSR and developed his own form of communism with power decentralised to workers' councils.

He dealt with nationalist aspirations by creating a federation of six republics: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia.

But ethnic tensions where never far from the surface. Although the federation held together for 10 years after Tito's death in 1980, it fell apart rapidly after Slovenia's declaration of independence.

In 1954 the city of Trieste in the so-called Free Territory of Trieste and the northern zone of the region were returned to Italy. The rest of the area became part of Yugoslavia.

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