278. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Survey of Italian Problems with the Secretary


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Manlio Brosio, Italian Embassy
  • Mr. Carlo Perrone-Capano, Minister, Italian Embassy
  • Mr. William L. Blue, WE

The Italian Ambassador expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to review Italian-American relations with Mr. Rusk and said he looked forward with pleasure to his association with him. The Secretary responded that he shared the Ambassador’s pleasure and added that the new administration hoped for the closest possible relations with Italy.

Ambassador Brosio informed the Secretary that there was a possibility that Mr. Segni, the Foreign Minister of Italy, might visit the United States during the U.N. General Assembly meeting beginning in March and hoped to meet the Secretary informally during his stay in the United States.1 The Secretary said he would very much like to see Mr. Segni, but would request that the meeting be on a very informal basis because of the chain reaction which might result from a more formal visit. The Secretary also indicated that he would like to have the Foreign Minister for lunch while he was here. The Secretary asked that the necessary arrangements be made for Mr. Segni’s visit to Washington at the appropriate time.

Ambassador Brosio opened the substantive portion of his remarks by saying that there were no major problems between Italy and the United States, but that he would like to outline for the benefit of the Secretary some of the problems which were current.

South Tyrol—The first subject was that of the South Tyrol, a question which Italy would have to live with for a long time. He expressed [Page 795]his appreciation for the support given to Italy by the United States during the last U.N. General Assembly meeting. He mentioned the meeting between officials of Italy and Austria taking place in Milan and stated that the United States could be assured that Italy would approach this meeting in a spirit of cooperation within the framework of the Gruber-de Gasperi agreement.2 He made it very clear, however, that Italy was not prepared to allow any separatism between the Italian and German communities. In a later comment he deplored the injection of racialism into this issue. The Ambassador assured the Secretary that the Italian Government was prepared to negotiate in a generous way and asked only for United States understanding and support. The Secretary said that he hoped that the talks in Milan would be fruitful. He added that the United States would be more comfortable if we were not confronted with a problem of this kind between two good friends. He added that he saw no reason to think that the United States would change its position on the Alto Adige question.
Common Market—The Ambassador mentioned the February talks of the Heads of Government of the Six.3 He indicated that they would be discussing certain French proposals, some of which might be acceptable to Italy. He added that Italy would also like to see something done to accommodate the U.K. He concluded with the statement that U.S. policy toward the Common Market had always been farsighted and that he would only hope that this policy would not change but would continue. The Secretary responded that, as the Ambassador knew, there has always been strong bipartisan support in the United States for European unity. He added that the United States Government wished the Common Market well and hoped that the two parties would work out their difficulties in such a way as to increase the flow of trade and economic growth.
Spaak Resignation4—The Ambassador then mentioned the reports of the resignation of Mr. Spaak, who would be in the United States [Page 796]in the near future. He referred to a communication of January 25 from his Foreign Minister to the effect that Mr. Spaak’s decision to resign might be dependent on the outcome of discussions in Washington on the subject of consultation within NATO. The Ambassador went on to say that the Government of Italy hoped that Mr. Spaak would not resign for various reasons, one being that it would be very difficult to replace him. He also was of the view that the publicity which would grow out of reports that he was resigning over the question of political consultations in NATO would be unfortunate. He concluded with the statement that Mr. Segni had expressed the hope that the United States would discourage Mr. Spaak’s resignation. The Secretary asked the Ambassador if Mr. Segni’s information had grown out of a recent contact with Mr. Spaak. The Ambassador replied that he thought the information was from their Mission in Paris. The Secretary said he asked this question as he had information from private sources contrary to that reported by the Ambassador. The Secretary agreed with the Ambassador that Mr. Spaak’s resignation would be unfortunate, but indicated that the United States could not commit itself without knowing what Mr. Spaak’s conditions were. He made it clear that there were no reservations with reference to Mr. Spaak on the part of the United States, but that we could not give him a blank check without knowing what was on his mind.

Nuclear Arms to NATO—The Ambassador introduced this subject by saying that he realized that it was very early in the new administration to bring this up, but he wondered if the administration planned to continue the policy of the former administration on nuclear arms to NATO. In response the Secretary said that the matter was under study. When Ambassador Brosio mentioned an A.P. report that Lord Home had informed Parliament that the new administration intended to continue the policy of the previous administration in this field, the Secretary said that he could not believe that the Foreign Minister had made any such statement. He stated that the U.S. had taken no steps inter-governmentally in this matter in view of the brief time which has elapsed since January 20th. The Secretary went on to say that despite any current impression to the contrary, his appointment and that of Mr. Bowles and Ambassador Stevenson did not represent any lessening of interest in NATO. He said it was true that all three had on occasion been involved with matters concerning other parts of the world, but this did not mean that they were unaware of the importance of NATO. He added that not only they, but the President himself regarded support of NATO as fundamental to U.S. policy. He stressed that we must reinvigorate the NATO alliance, but also work for good relations between the NATO countries and the other nations of the world. It was no secret, he stated, that at times the United States was torn between our friends in NATO and those in other parts of the world and that we cannot always accept [Page 797]the views of our NATO partners as regards the rest of the world. However, we certainly should do everything possible not to allow our differences in viewpoint to weaken the unity of NATO.

The Secretary commented that if the Ambassador found that his reactions to any of the specific problems which he had raised were too general, he hoped that he would please let him know so that he could make them more specific. The Ambassador responded that he understood the Secretary’s position and that he did not expect specific answers to all of the questions which he had raised, but merely wished to review for the benefit of the Secretary some of the issues which were important to Italy at this time. The meeting was concluded after further pleasantries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.65/1–2661. Confidential. Drafted by Blue and approved in S on February 4.
  2. No record of a meeting between Segni and Secretary Rusk has been found.
  3. On June 23, 1960, the Government of Austria requested that the General Assembly place the question of the “Austrian minority in Italy” on its agenda. The issue was referred to the Special Political Committee on October 10, 1960. On October 31, 1960, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1479 (XV), which called on Italy and Austria to resume their bilateral negotiations over means to implement the 1946 De Gasperi-Gruber agreements. The United States supported an Italian suggestion that the matter be adjudicated before the International Court of Justice at The Hague and voted in favor of the October 31 General Assembly resolution. Representatives of the Italian and Austrian Governments discussed the South Tyrol question at Milan on January 27–28, 1961. For text of the De Gasperi-Gruber agreement, signed on September 9, 1946, and included as an annex to the Treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1947, see 61 Stat. 1245 or TIAS 1648.
  4. The EEC heads of government met in Paris February 10–11 with the objectives of improving their political cooperation and creating a single European market.
  5. See Document 95.