76. Memorandum of a Conversation, Paris, December 17, 1957, 9 p.m.1



  • United States
    • The President
    • Mr. C. Burke Elbrick
    • Lt. Col. Walters
  • Italy
    • Prime Minister Zoli
    • Foreign Minister Pella

After an exchange of the usual pleasantries, the President said that he felt that there had been a considerable measure of general [Page 243] agreement in the statements made by the various chiefs of government during the first day of the meeting.2 He added that everyone seemed agreed on the need for consultation, but added that immediately thereafter they had all unilaterally released their statements to the press, which contradicted what they had just said. The President said this humorously, and then returning to a serious vein, he said we were very much in favor of closer, fuller and even earlier consultation. Prime Minister Zoli then complimented the President on the two splendid speeches he had made on the first day. He felt that they had struck the keynote of the meeting, and Mr. Pella said that the Conference could well have ended on that note—what followed was anti-climactic.

The President felt that Mr. Macmillan had made a fine presentation and had made useful suggestions as to the work procedure for the Conference. With this, the Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister agreed.

The President then said that during the time he had been in Europe, the Italian Government had always been in the forefront of the movement for European integration. He asked whether this was still true. Mr. Zoli replied that it was even more true today than before. This was true not only of the Italian Government but of broad sections of the population, particularly the young people who were convinced Europeans. The President said that he had always favored closer integration in Europe. If, for example, Italy, France, and Germany drew closer together, they would represent a power comparable to the Soviet Union and the United States, and in this case there would be three great powers in the world, two of them on the side of freedom and this would certainly cause the Russians to pause and reflect. Mr. Pella said it was important that there be no discrimination against anyone, and the President emphatically said he had been citing an example, but he certainly felt that the Belgians, the Dutch, and the others should likewise be included. Prime Minister Zoli felt that anything that could be done during the Conference to give additional stimulus in this direction within the framework of NATO would be helpful.

The President said that when he had been here before, one of Italy’s great problems had been unemployment, and that there had been some 2.6 million unemployed, as he recollected the figure. Mr. Zoli replied that the figures of unemployment were sometimes somewhat deceptive. They now had 1.8 million unemployed; 1.6 million during periods of greater employment. This represented great progress, but they were not convinced that all of these were really unemployed. Italy’s greatest preoccupation was the raising of the low [Page 244] living standards which existed in southern Italy where great poverty existed. The President said that, as we had said before, we were asking for an increase in lending authority in certain governmental organizations, and that a favorable climate would attract private investment.

Mr. Zoli then said he knew that the President had an appointment with Chancellor Adenauer and that he did not wish to keep him any longer. He merely wished to tell him of the respect and affection which the Italian people had for him and their high hope that he would come to Rome at some time in the future. The President said he hoped this would be possible and the two Italian Ministers then took leave of the President.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 951. Secret. Drafted by Walters and cleared by Elbrick. This conversation took place at the American Embassy residence at 9 p.m.
  2. See Polto 1779, supra.