289. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Consultation and the Fanfani Visit to Moscow


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Sergio Fenoaltea, Italian Embassy
  • Mr. William L. Blue, WE

The Ambassador opened by saying that this was his first business call on the Secretary, as his previous visit had been a courtesy call just prior to the Fanfani visit. He then stressed the need for Italy to count on U.S. support, as the Italian Government was faced continually with great difficulties. He said that even after a hundred years of unity, Italian leadership had to work almost hourly to keep the democratic establishment going against a strong Communist party on the one hand and rightist elements on the other. He mentioned as one of the problems facing the government the economic conditions in Southern Italy. He said [Page 815]that in a certain sense Italy was still somewhat of a frontier fighting to maintain democracy on a daily basis. The Secretary stated that, as the Ambassador knew, the United States had a lively interest in supporting Italy as had been expressed to Mr. Fanfani while he was here.

The Ambassador went on to stress the problems facing the Italian Government in connection with NATO. He said that the IRBM launching pads had been introduced only against strong opposition.1 He added that the support required was not only economic support because Italy had always had this, but also moral support. The Ambassador then mentioned the necessity for consultation with Italy. He said that all too often Italy was left in the dark. He added that the question of consultation was not one of vanity, but of necessity to help the government cope with anti-NATO forces within Italy. He emphasized it was absolutely essential that the government be able to say it had been consulted and not as a secondary power but because of its importance to the Alliance.

The Secretary responded to the effect that, as the Ambassador knew, the United States has a great problem on the question of consultation. He said he wished to consult our allies whenever possible. He assured the Ambassador that during the past few weeks we had been consulting certain countries on a response to the Aide-Mémoire.2 He added that there had been no consultation on where we go next, as the United States had not developed its own position yet, but, when we did, our allies would be consulted. He added we had also been consulting the French on problems where there were differences in policy between the United States and France.

The Ambassador cited as a small indication of what he had in mind the fact that no one had come to Rome to brief the Government there on the Khrushchev–Kennedy talks.3 He said that he knew this was a small matter and perhaps even a matter of appearances, but this type of consultation was very important to the Italians. He added that he hoped the Secretary would allow him to come by from time to time to discuss problems with him, as after all, this was bilateral consultation.

[Page 816]

The Secretary then raised the subject of the Fanfani visit to the Soviet Union. He said the U.S. was aware of the Prime Minister’s domestic problem, but was concerned about the international aspects of the visit and believed that if he must go, the sooner the better. The Ambassador said that he had nothing definite on this visit. The Secretary then informed the Ambassador that we had word from Rome that there had been such an invitation and that there was some inclination to accept it, but the timing had not been set. The Secretary said we had indicated that we were skeptical of the usefulness of such a visit at this point on the part of a high statesman of a NATO country, but he reiterated that if the Prime Minister felt he must go, it was better to go now than later. The Ambassador indicated some skepticism that such a visit would be made. He assured the Secretary that we would be informed if Fanfani did go and that there certainly would be no problem, in view of Fanfani’s background, that he would not demonstrate moral firmness during the visit. The Secretary indicated that this aspect was certainly not a matter of concern to the United States.

The Ambassador then turned to the Alto/Adige question. He began by tracing some of the history of the recent talks and mentioned the terrorism which had broken out about the time of the talks in Zurich which he termed very unfortunate.4 He said that the Italian Government was still agreeable to referring the matter to the ICJ, which had originally been a United States suggestion and wondered if this was still the U.S. position. The Secretary said that this was correct and he hoped that resort would be had to the ICJ rather than having the question thrown into a “wild and free-swinging” meeting in the U.N. General Assembly. The Italian Ambassador added this was not a political matter as the Austrians claimed, but a legal question. The Secretary then stated that he wanted to say that we thought the Italian Government had acted with great moderation in this dispute and this was appreciated by the United States. He added he only hoped this moderation could be continued so that “you can talk it out between you”. He said he presumed the terrorists had pushed the Austrian Government further than the Government would have liked.

The Ambassador said there was one point which he wanted to make entirely clear, i.e., mediation was out of the question as far as the Government of Italy was concerned. He said that the U.S. should impress on the Austrians the necessity for moderation. He added that they were now openly encouraging terrorism and bombs made in Austria had recently been found. He said that many of the leaders of the Tyrol movement were former Nazis and that the Deputy Mayor of a South [Page 817]Tyrolean town had recently made a speech in which he had declared that one of these days all of the Tyrol would be united and would be a part of one great Reich.

The Ambassador indicated that one of the most tragic aspects of this whole affair was the effect on relations between the Federal German Republic and Italy. He then referred to the support being given to the Austrians by the Bavarians. These pan-German manifestations are particularly deplorable, he added, when we are all uniting to support Berlin. He said unfortunately these developments played into the hands of the Communists in Italy who exploited them against NATO and the European Community. He also indicated Italian policy had always been strong in support of NATO and EEC and the idea of tying Germany to Europe, but this policy might be affected by these manifestations of pan-Germanism.

The Ambassador then queried the Secretary as to whether some approach could be made to the Chancellor to bring him to disassociate his Government from the Tyrol question. He said he was not asking the United States to go to Adenauer and say that the Italian Government had made this proposal, but he was throwing this out as a personal idea which might possibly have merit. The Secretary asked if Segni had mentioned this to von Brentano and the Ambassador said he did not know. The Secretary manifested some interest in this proposal and said it would be studied.

The Ambassador then raised the subject of Berlin and Mr. Khrushchev’s intentions. The Secretary said that we would be in touch with his Government on this subject before too long. He added that Mr. Khrushchev was serious in his determination to exploit the Berlin question and he would continue to press the matter. He also said that Khrushchev was anxious about East Germany and wanted to strengthen it. He said he presumed that negotiations would take place at some stage, but before we negotiate we want to make it clear to him that we are firm. In conclusion we are making a total review of our policy and would be in touch with his government soon, the Secretary said.

The Ambassador said at the end of the conversation that if Fanfani went to Moscow, he hoped that we would recall that he was about the last to make the pilgrimage.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 765.00/7–1761. Confidential. Drafted by Blue and approved in S on August 9.
  2. On September 30, 1958, during a debate in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Foreign Minister Segni announced that Jupiter missile bases would be established in the Puglia region, in response to the decisions taken at the December 1957 NATO heads of government meeting. On March 30, 1959, the Department of State announced an agreement with Italy covering the apportioning of costs and the status of U.S. forces assigned to man the missile bases. The accord was approved in the Italian Senate on April 17.
  3. For text of the Soviet aide-mémoire of June 4, regarding a German peace treaty, see Department of State Bulletin, August 7, 1961, pp. 231–233.
  4. June 3–4 in Vienna; for documentation on this meeting, see vol. V, Documents 5764.
  5. In July 1961 a series of seven foiled bombing attempts by German-nationalist groups in the South Tyrol left two dead.