No. 270

665.001/4–2051: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy 1


4728. At press conference Apr 17 Secy was asked about report from Rome that Count Sforza had sent memo US suggesting Atlantic Pact countries offer non-aggression pact to Commie countries. Secy replied he did not know and that after seeing press reports that Count Sforza had sent letter about Ital Peace Treaty had searched for such letter and found nothing on it. Said cld not answer question asked. Another correspondent then asked about Peace Treaty letter and Secy said Count Sforza has not sent him any letter about Peace Treaty. Said that such letter was one he had been looking for and had not found.

New York Times Apr 18 carried Rome story that Sforza has sent memo to SecState re non-aggression treaty. Story purported summarize [Page 601] memo.2 Dept then responded to further inquiries that Sec-State has received thru Tarchiani message from Sforza proposing that NAT countries offer to USSR and other Commie countries non-aggression pact as demonstration Western preparations really defensive, that proposal under study, and that far as we know other NAT members not consulted.

FYI facts are Secy received personal letter from Sforza with suggestion substantially as reported and it is under study; no letter has been received from Sforza re Ital Peace Treaty. Dept informally explained to Ital Emb prior NY Times publication that SecState had intentionally at press conference diverted question away from non-aggression matter since understood that Sforza letter secret and personal and accordingly desired avoid possible embarrassment to Sforza by admitting its receipt. After NY Times report Dept concluded must confirm receipt.

NY Times Apr 19 reports officially inspired statement being published Rome press effect Ital Govt considers Peace Treaty revision timely now and that difficulties cannot “deflect Ital diplomacy from posing solution of what is not only the paramount Ital problem but also act of justice in behalf of democratic nations”.

Dept suggests you make clear US views on these developments, which are also being expressed Ital Emb here (reurtels 46903 and 4704 Apr 174):

Dept previously under impression Ital Govt shared our views Peace Treaty issue shld be given as little emphasis as possible in press pending outcome four-power conversations. Recognize recent publicity was created by FonOff for internal polit reasons and Congressional action here partly responsible. We hope FonOff will realize further public agitation of this kind at this time may hinder rather than help ultimate objective of revision mil clauses by forcing us into opposition in order not to weaken our position in current negots with Soviet Union. FYI believe this may be even more true in case of Brit and Fr.

[Page 602]

We also do not see how premature pub Sforza’s non-aggression proposal given us in secrecy will help Italy’s relations with her other associates in NATO who are vitally interested and learn of this proposal through public press. Dept most strongly wishes work closely with Ital Govt in these matters of mutual interest and is disturbed by Ital Govt’s unilateral publicity action which makes our cooperation difficult, particularly as regards necessary consultation with our friendly allies.

  1. Drafted by Greene and Byington and cleared with Williamson, Bonbright, and Perkins; repeated to Paris and London.
  2. For the memorandum under reference here and the covering letter of April 2, see Document 267. In telegram 4769 from Rome, April 20, the Embassy reported as follows concerning the “leak” of information on Sforza’s proposal:

    “Prior publication Cianfarra article New York Times April 18th FonOff had not mentioned to Emb Sforza’s proposal to Dept re ‘nonaggression pact’. Upon our informal inquiry, Chief of Cabinet confirmed message had been sent to Washington and explained that Cianfarra had learned of proposal some time ago at luncheon meeting with De Gasperi, Sforza and others which he had attended in private capacity. After much prodding by Cianfarra, Sforza apparently was convinced publicity inevitable and story broke while he was in Paris.” (740.5/4–2051)

  3. Not printed, but see footnote 4, supra.
  4. Supra