299. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • U.S. Relations with Italy


  • The President
  • Ambassador Frederick Reinhardt
  • Mr. McGeorge Bundy

The President said his recent letter to Prime Minister Fanfani grew out of his desire to develop closer and more direct relations with the Italian Government.1 He felt that Italy would become increasingly important to us in view of the predictable difficulties with France and the fact that both Belgium and the Netherlands were deeply disturbed by our attitude on colonial questions.

I said I thought the President would find a very satisfactory response from the Italians to any direct approach or effort to develop closer relations with them he might make. I pointed out that for the next 18 months or two years, that is until the next stage was reached in the European Common Market, the Italians would enjoy a veto in that forum. I thought it would be useful to keep this in mind, particularly because the Italians shared our view of the importance of not permitting the Market to establish preferences with respect to former French and British colonies in Africa and elsewhere which would discriminate against Latin America. The Italians shared our belief in the importance of protecting that continent from discrimination by the Market and could be a useful instrument, particularly as long as they enjoyed veto power in the organization.

The President said he looked forward to an opportunity to visit Italy and authorized me to express to Prime Minister Fanfani and other members of the Italian Government the U.S. Government’s appreciation of the importance of their role in the Atlantic Community and European organizations.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Italy. Confidential. Drafted by Reinhardt.
  2. No copy of the letter has been found. According to a March 9 memorandum of conversation between Bundy and Knight, the letter dealt with disarmament policy. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.65/3–962) In a March 9 memorandum to Kohler Bundy noted that the French are “cultivating the Italians,” and the President wanted “to be sure that we are not missing any tricks on the score.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Italy)