304. Memorandum of Conversation0



(June 18–28, 1962)


  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Ambassador Reinhardt
    • Colonel V. Walters
  • Italy
    • Prime Minister Fanfani
    • Foreign Minister Piccioni
    • Minister Marchiori


  • Fanfani Tour d’Horizon

The Secretary opened the conversation by saying how happy he was to have an opportunity to talk to the Prime Minister. He brought greetings from President Kennedy for the Prime Minister and regretted the shortness of his stay in Rome. The Prime Minister said that he understood the Congressional commitments of the Secretary2 and he too was happy that they had this opportunity to talk.

The Secretary said that he would be happy to know what the principal concerns of the Prime Minister were at this time on the international scene, on the repercussions that Italian internal politics might have on Italy’s foreign policy and on those actions of the United States which might be of concern to the Prime Minister. The Secretary added that he knew that President Kennedy would be extremely interested to know the Prime Minister’s feelings. President Kennedy, who had to live 24 hours a day with his responsibility in the field of nuclear weapons, lived 24 hours a day with the hope that peace could be consolidated.

Prime Minister Fanfani referred first of all to the situation in Berlin and said that he felt that all things considered there had been some relaxation of the tensions that had previously existed there. Whether this was part of Khrushchev’s tactics or not was difficult to see. Khrushchev had accustomed the world to his sudden storms of ill humor, followed by periods when he was in a more benign mood. He had, however, been [Page 844]very tough on Berlin when talking to Minister Preti in Moscow recently. The Prime Minister then showed the Secretary a long three-page letter reaffirming the Soviet position on Berlin and disarmament. The Secretary thanked the Prime Minister for showing him the letter (Piccioni had not yet seen it). The Secretary commented that when Khrushchev was talking about Berlin by indirection, that is through third parties, he was invariably a great deal more violent than when talking to us. In our talks with Dobrynin, these had always been conducted in a business-like, quiet atmosphere, without threats of war or use of hydrogen bombs.

Mr. Fanfani then said that a curious phenomenon was taking place in regard to the attitude of the Soviet Union toward the Catholic Church. He had recently had private indications that the Soviets were prepared to let all Catholic bishops in the Soviet Union take part in the Ecumenical Council to be held in Rome in October and this might well be true for the other satellites. There were indications in Czechoslovakia of a less rigid attitude toward the Catholic Church. The Prime Minister felt that this might mean that the Soviets feared that the Council might eclipse them in matters of peace and relaxation of tensions. For this purpose they were calling the Council of Friends of Peace in July and were making great efforts to insure its success.

The Secretary then asked what the Prime Minister thought of the situation in Poland and Mr. Fanfani said that the situation there was a good deal different than in other satellites, and the Church enjoyed greater freedom. He had the feeling that the Poles had been counselling moderation to Khrushchev. The Secretary said that he felt there was a great deal which the Italians might do in Warsaw by encouraging the Poles along this line and added that recently he had a long talk with Mr. Rapacki in Geneva. Foreign Minister Piccioni broke in to say that Rapacki had lived in Italy for ten years as a workman, spoke excellent Italian and had a rather pleasing personality. The Secretary said that he had told Rapacki some simple truths such as the fact that we are in Berlin, that we intend to stay in Berlin for the foreseeable future in view of the world situation, and that, if anybody tried to throw us out, there would be war. This might not seem rational to Khrushchev (namely that we were prepared to fight over Berlin) but he would have to consider the risk that we might be a “Tittle crazy”, and would fight. Furthermore, the presence of the Western garrisons in Berlin was a stabilizing factor and in a sense a reassurance for Poland. The Secretary added that as Rapacki had left him he had smiled, shaken hands and said “Good luck to you,” and as he went out the door, he had turned back and smiled an even broader smile and said, “I mean good luck to both sides, of course.”

Prime Minister Fanfani said that the situation in Berlin might again become grave, as Khrushchev had indicated that he would not countenance [Page 845]the presence of Western garrisons in Berlin and talked as though he were determined to get rid of them.

Mr. Fanfani said that the Polish Ambassador had been trying to see him for three months. He had refused because he knew what the Polish Ambassador wanted to do. He wanted to invite Fanfani to go to Warsaw, and he asked what the Secretary of State thought he should do. The Secretary said that he wanted to review the question in all its aspects. He said he felt that it might perhaps be wiser to invite Rapacki to visit Italy first if he went to Geneva to sign the agreement on Laos. The Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister seemed to like this idea.

Mr. Fanfani said that it would be very interesting to observe further actions of the Soviets toward the Catholic Church and also to see whether or not they would send observers from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Ecumenical Council. Mr. Fanfani said that it was his belief that the Vatican would shortly invite the heads of all states to attend the opening of the Council and it would be embarrassing if the Soviets were to reply affirmatively before the nations of the Free World. He did not know what this change in attitude meant toward the Catholic Church. The impression that the Italians had derived from one of the smaller satellite states was that they would like to leave the Orthodox Church free to do what it wanted.

Mr. Fanfani said that in regard to differences between the Soviet Union and China, he did not believe that these would lead to an immediate break in the Sino-Soviet bloc. This was something that might come about in the much more distant future.

The Prime Minister then said that Italy was still a devout supporter of the cause of European economic and political unification. Italy had always supported Britain’s entry into the Common Market, and he was happy to reaffirm this fact to the Secretary. He expressed fears that Germany and France might get together and attempt to set up Europe on the basis of their two countries, or three or four, if the others did not join. He discussed his concern in this regard at some length and the Secretary said that he did not believe this was the intention of Adenauer and de Gaulle.

Mr. Fanfani expressed the belief that we must try to bring the Benelux around to be more helpful. He felt that the Germans had always favored British entry into the Common Market and de Gaulle was now resigned to its inevitability. (The Secretary said he thought this was a rather apt way to put the matter.) Fanfani said de Gaulle had asked him at Turin whether he thought it would simplify the integration of Europe if the British were brought in. The Italians had replied affirmatively and de Gaulle had said that they were deluding themselves. He, therefore, seemed to have moved from this position at the present time.

[Page 846]

Mr. Fanfani expressed the belief that one of the reasons why General de Gaulle wished to develop a nuclear weapon was that he felt that this might be attractive to Chancellor Adenauer. The Secretary said that both Adenauer and de Gaulle were deeply concerned with the importance of a true understanding between their countries and Foreign Minister Piccioni commented that today they were standing watch on the Rhine together. The Secretary smilingly added that in this brotherhood it would be interesting to see who would be the older brother. He added that he greatly appreciated all that the Italians had done to support constructive developments both in the field of European economic and political integration, as well as in NATO.

Mr. Fanfani then spoke of the internal difficulties which Khrushchev was having within the Soviet Union and said that he did not believe that he was quite the all-dominant dictator that we sometimes thought outside. There were forces at work within the Soviet Union.

On the way over to the dinner at Villa Madama, Prime Minister Fanfani, in the car without the presence of Minister Marchiori, said that he would reply to the other question which the Secretary had asked him concerning the impact of internal political developments in Italy on the foreign policy of that country. He had not been concerned when he last saw the Secretary about such possible effect of the opening to the Left; he was now even more relaxed about this problem. In the recent debate in the Senate on the budget of the armed forces, Minister Andreotti referred to the Athens agreement and even the Socialists had voted to approve the defense budget. Fanfani expressed his confidence that similar approval under similar conditions would be obtained in the Chamber of Deputies. He said that the Socialists had been an opposition party for almost all of the 70 years they have been in existence. They did not understand the responsibilities of power and in some ways it might be easier to have them in the Government than out. Sometimes in discussions they asked almost childish questions. Recently they had finally agreed to the Christian Democrat formula for the nationalization of electricity in Italy. Mr. Fanfani felt that the Italian Socialist Party was moving toward a more positive participation in the democratic life of Italy and that the Socialist Parties of Europe were moving in a similar direction. They were now becoming more concerned with freedom than with material improvements, perhaps because substantial gains had been achieved in the latter field. The Secretary felt that perhaps one of the reasons for this was that the Soviet bloc countries had failed to perform the miracles they had promised.

After dinner the Secretary mentioned the question of the Voice of America relay station in Sardinia. The Prime Minister replied that the situation on this was presently very bad. Italian law reserved the middle band of frequencies for the Italian radio-television monopoly. The [Page 847]United States interest was in the use of the short-wave bands and the Italians had previously felt that this would be possible, but subsequently they had discovered that on the books there was an old piece of Fascist legislation by which all broadcasts on short-wave bands were reserved for the Italian state. The Italian Government had sounded out the Supreme Court on this matter and it appeared that they could not give us what we wanted short of a state treaty between the two nations which would have to be subject to Parliamentary ratification. He felt that it might not be wise to attempt to do this at this time. The Secretary asked whether this difficulty still held even if the station still were the property of the Italian Government. The Prime Minister replied that these difficulties still held. The Secretary said he would like to reflect on the situation a little bit and the Prime Minister then changed the conversation to pleasant amenities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2123. Secret. Drafted by Walters and approved in S on June 26.
  2. Secretary Rusk visited Rome, June 24, during a trip to Belgium, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Italy.
  3. Rusk testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 2.