305. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State0
Secto 59. Eyes only for President and Acting Secretary.
- Visit to Rome was more than worth the few hours I was able to give it. Detailed reports on group discussions coming separate telegrams.
- I had a most satisfactory private talk with Segni who may be counted upon as firm and loyal friend. He seemed in fine fettle and his presence in the Italian Presidency for the next seven years, God willing, is reassuring.1 He is concerned about the possible longer range impact of the “opening to the left” on Italian foreign policy and believes it bears close watching. He knows that if he wishes to say anything quite privately to us on this or any other subject Ambassador Reinhardt has a special channel to the President. I was happy to hear him say that I could deal with Foreign Minister Piccioni on the same basis of utter confidence [Page 848]and trust as had been possible with Segni himself. In view of known Segni-Fanfani tensions, I thought this especially significant. There is no doubt that Segni will fully support NATO solidarity, close friendship with the United States, and the kind of European unity and North Atlantic Community which have been objects of US policy.
- [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] but he insisted that the opening to the left would make no difference to Italian foreign policy and cited Socialist support in the Parliament for increased military budgets on the basis of the Defense Minister’s report of the Athens NATO meeting,2 He said all the right things for my ears but I could not help thinking of Frondizi.3 [3 lines of source text not declassified]
- The new Foreign Minister, Piccioni, seems to be solidly Western-oriented, conservative in his views, interested, well informed and articulate. I have the impression he will prove to be a good anchor to windward, especially with Segni in the background.
- It is worth noting that Segni, Fanfani, and Piccioni each seemed to attach the greatest importance to private talks with me without the others being present. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] it clearly is a situation we must watch very closely.
During our discussion of the US-Soviet talks on Berlin, Piccioni invited my comments on a study prepared “by a friend of ours” on Soviet motives and intentions. This study, according to Piccioni, set forth the thesis that practically all aspects of Soviet international behavior, including the drive on Berlin, can be explained by our frustration of their desire to expand their trade with the United States. (This sounded to me like Mattei, but the Embassy is looking into this further.)
As you will learn from the record of the talk, I came back very hard on this, since the Italians have clearly been tempted by the possibilities of increased trade with the USSR for themselves. I was as emphatic as I knew how to be in puncturing this thesis, and I must say for Piccioni that he seemed both satisfied and relieved.
- I was greatly encouraged to find Italy a strong adherent to the broadest concept of the Common Market in political as well as economic fields. While favoring UK admission, they do not wish to dilute Treaty of Rome. I think they can play a useful middle-man role in all this, and encouraged them to do so.
- All high officials went out of their way to express appreciation for the job Reinhardt is doing as Ambassador.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.65/6–2462. Secret; Priority; No Other Distribution. A note on the source text reads: “Relayed to White House, 6/24/62 5:55 p.m.” Memoranda of Rusk’s conversations with Italian leaders are in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2123.↩
- On May 6 the Italian Parliament elected Antonio Segni President of the Italian Republic on the ninth ballot.↩
- See Document 304.↩
- Arturo Frondizi, President of Argentina, 1958–1962, was overthrown in a March 1962 military coup.↩