280. Editorial Note
Ambassador at Large W. Averell Harriman visited Rome March 8–11 for meetings with Italian Government officials and party leaders. In a March 9 meeting with Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, Harriman outlined the foreign policy objectives of the new administration, and the two men discussed relations with the Soviet Union. At Harriman’s request, Fanfani gave his opinions on the upcoming Italian presidential [Page 799]election. Fanfani suggested that Harriman meet with Enrico Mattei, chairman of the Italian state oil company, ENI, to discuss oil policy. Harriman also met with President Giovanni Gronchi at which time he reaffirmed U.S. pledges of cooperation with Italy and outlined Kennedy administration policy. At Harriman’s request, Gronchi discussed his February 1960 visit to the Soviet Union and his impressions of the Soviet leadership.
On March 10 Harriman met with Foreign Minister Segni for a discussion of Mediterranean issues, particularly Algeria, and the Portuguese colonial situation. He also held a meeting with Mattei, who “spoke with burning indignation of the discrimination practiced against Italy and against his group in particular by the main US and British oil companies. He said that Italy had begun its industrialization much later than the other nations because during the 19th century, when the main source of power was coal, Italy had no coal and a ton of coal on the dock at Genoa cost twice as much as it had in Britain, France or Germany. Italy’s industrialization had only recently gotten under way after the development of hydro-electric power, and then like magic, a whole chain of industries had sprung up in the Po Valley. He had made deals with the Soviet Bloc simply because the Western oil companies pursued a blind policy of short-term profits without regard to the long-term effects thereof. He again expressed his indignation at this treatment saying ‘we too are allies, we too are part of the West, and want to remain with the West.’ He said that the attitude of these petroleum companies in the producing areas was equally blind. They did not realize that the world had changed and that the peoples of these areas were no longer content with a 50 percent share of the profits and the oil companies telling them not to meddle in the oil business because they knew nothing about it. It was not merely the profit that they were after but was a sense of participation. Therefore, in his dealings he had introduced a new formula. Fifty percent of the net profits to the local government and of the remainder, 50 percent to the associated national oil enterprise, which to join him invested no money and which paid off his initial investment out of their 50 percent of the profits over a 12 year period. This gave them a direct interest in the production, and this sense of participation which was so essential.” (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Central Files, 110.15–HA/3–1061)
Harriman met with the leader of the Italian Social Democratic Party, Giuseppi Saragat, on March 11. On the issue of possible participation by the Italian Socialist Party in a government, Saragat noted that his party had made gains in the November 1960 elections “which coincided with Nenni Socialist setback” and “categorically opposed PSI entry in government because of present Socialist participation with Communists [Page 800]in trade unions and numerous local governments and their foreign policy views.” (Telegram 3520 from Rome, March 11; ibid., 765.00/3–1161)
On March 11 Harriman met with Fanfani for the second time (see Document 281).
At the conclusion of the visit, the two governments announced that Harriman had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Fanfani on behalf of President Kennedy to make an official visit to Washington at a future date to be agreed upon. Memoranda of conversation between Harriman and Italian leaders are in Department of State, Central File 110.15–HA.