281. Memorandum of Conversation0

PRESENT

  • Prime Minister Fanfani
  • Ambassador Harriman
  • Colonel Vernon Walters

The conversation opened with Mr. Harriman reading to Prime Minister Fanfani that part of a statement covering the announcement that he had delivered a message that President Kennedy was anxious to meet and confer with Prime Minister Fanfani. The Prime Minister was pleased and agreed with the text read to him.

Mr. Harriman indicated that he was pleased to have heard Pella, after his somewhat conservative picture of Italian finances, agree with a large investment program in the south and the islands.

The Prime Minister said he was happy that the three Ministers had a chance to present their views to Mr. Harriman and that he had certainly drawn the conclusion that, considering what was available and what was planned within Italy, there was certainly a margin for Italy to carry her share in a coordinated plan of assistance to the under-developed countries.

[Page 801]

Mr. Harriman then said that he had seen Mr. Saragat and had told him that he was disappointed that the Social Democrats had not been able to attract more votes from the left, and, in fact, had lost some. Mr. Saragat pointed out that he had, in fact, gained some at the last elections and Mr. Fanfani confirmed this.

Mr. Harriman said that Saragat felt he was being badly treated by the British Labor Party. Mr. Fanfani replied that the British Labor Party, and also the French Socialists led by Mollet, were anxious to see Nenni’s Socialists detach themselves from the Communists. The Prime Minister said that, in his opinion, what should be done was to use the Liberals on the right under Malagodi to attract votes from the right, and the Social Democrats under Saragat on the left, to attract votes from further left.

With regard to detaching the Socialists from the Communists, he felt that there were three conditions: the possible, the imminent, and the probable. Certainly, such detachment was not imminent, everything was possible, and as to the probabilities in the future, one could only speculate. In a limited way, in some city governments they were attempting to show the Socialists that there were advantages to cooperating with the democratic majority. This was being done cautiously and with prudence. Saragat was obviously anxious that the Socialists not be brought into the majority against him but with him, and Malagodi was fearful that if the Socialists came in, the Liberals would be pushed out in the cold. He feared this might happen after the Socialist Party Congress in Milan later this month. The Prime Minister said that there was no chance of this happening. At a later date, possibly after the elections, consideration might be given to Socialist participation in the government, providing; that they detach themselves from the Communists on foreign policy, on NATO, and in labor.

Speculating on the future prospects of his own government, he did not feel that the Socialists or the Republicans wanted to bring the government down, nor did Malagodi, but he had to fight against the right wing of his own party, and he foresaw considerable longevity for his own government.

Mr. Harriman said that he feared Nenni had been too closely associated with Togliatti for too long, and that attempts should be made to win over the Socialist electorate, rather than Nenni himself. The Prime Minister agreed and said that this was what they were trying to do.

Mr. Harriman then spoke of the policies of the new Administration, saying that there was a new spirit, that they were concerned with expanding the economy and correcting unemployment, as well as protecting against inflation. The Prime Minister said that he was particularly grateful to President Kennedy for his courtesy in sending Mr. Harriman, [Page 802]who was a proven friend of Italy and who knew conditions in this country so well, to talk with the Italian government leaders.

Minister Horsey and Ambassador Vanni then joined the Prime Minister and Ambassador Harriman and the text of the two statements was agreed upon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.15–HA/3–1161. Secret. Drafted by Walters. The meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s office at Viminale Palace.