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123. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State 1

Secto 43. NATUS.

1. Italian Foreign Minister Fanfani called on Secretary June 5, accompanied by Foreign Office Secretary General Catalano, DirGen Political Affairs Gaja, and interpreter.

Following is uncleared summary, Noforn, subject revision on review.

A.

France-NATO. Fanfani said Gromyko’s reaction to France-NATO situation during recent Italian visit cautious. Fanfani said he had told Khrushchev in 1961 that Soviet Union should appreciate NATO’s role vis-á-visGermany.2 Khrushchev had disagreed, whereas [Page 255] Gromyko, when same point made to him, had not replied. Fanfani thought Sov initiative on European Security Conference stemmed from concern over effects of NATO crisis on Germany’s place in Europe.

Secretary summarized U.S. public attitude toward NATO crisis, emphasizing that while public and Congress prepared support U.S. sharing of all burdens on Fourteen arising from position of France, major political problem would arise if Fourteen themselves fell into confusion or paralysis. This would generate disillusion with NATO and would arouse concern lest it cause miscalculation in Moscow. This unity of Fourteen at Brussels meeting highly important to future U.S. support of NATO.

Fanfani said Italian contacts with others of Fourteen showed little divergencies of attitude among them. Italian public opinion not worried. In recent appearances before committees of Italian Chamber of Deputies and Senate, Fanfani had found larger majority supporting Italian sharing in material burdens arising from France-NATO crisis than usually supported government on other issues. As examples, he said no members of committees had objected when informed Italy prepared accept NATO Defense College in Rome if asked. As second example, he said that at Cabinet meeting just before his departure for Brussels, he had estimated possible cost to Italy of France-NATO problems at 60 billion lire. This had aroused no serious opposition. His statement that Vicenza depots might have to be enlarged evoked no protest. Only difficulty was minor: some had opposed choice of Rome as site when sections of NAMSA moved to Italy.

As by-product of France-NATO crisis, Fanfani said Italian Socialist Party now aware of positive benefits of NATO integration. Socialists had problem of presenting their acceptance of NATO to public opinion. They would take approach of emphasizing that NATO political as well as military reform could now be studied. Fanfani thought stress on role of NATO in East-West dialogue would be helpful to Socialists.

On political right, within Christian-Democratic, Social-Democratic and Liberal Parties, Fanfani said there was preoccupation with strategic isolation of Italy as result France-NATO crisis. These elements felt maximum links with France had to be maintained to facilitate France’s future reassociation.

Fanfani himself thought France had substantial interests binding it to other allies, such as desire maintain troops in Germany and general question of relations with neighbors. This meant that negotiations, though difficult, might be successful.

Replying, Secretary said U.S. also concerned with geographic effect of French actions on Italy. He expressed hope France-NATO agreement on use of air space could be reached and pointed out use of NATO country air space by France was vital for French atomic force.

[Page 256]

Fanfani doubted De Gaulle’s present policy was designed to produce complete break with Alliance. He saw large tactical elements in French position, as he said had been case in EEC crisis.

Secretary suggested Fanfani and Schroeder might find occasion talk with Couve as neighbors, probing why France was taking actions ostensibly so damaging to neighbors’ interests.

Fanfani felt De Gaulle already had in mind resumption of dialogue with EEC partners. He said De Gaulle had casually remarked to Italian diplomat on June 2 that it was time to terminate EEC and NATO affairs “on the side, then resume discussion among Six.” Fanfani said opportunity for talks of kind Secretary had in mind might arise on June 13 when EEC Council would meet to discuss whether to confirm presidency of Hallstein. French were opposed. If they yielded, this could be starting point for wider talks. If they held out, this could provide even better opportunity.

B.

Science and Technology. Fanfani mentioned UK decision withdraw from ELDO. He thought that while substantive reasons might be sound, UK handling and timing were poor. ELDO itself represented waste of money since members merely rediscovered what U.S. had already learned. It made no sense when ELDO was launching Europe I in Australia simultaneously with U.S.

Secretary expressed concern about UK decision, which had strongly disappointed U.S. He said he intended discuss it with UK Foreign Minister Stewart, who would be calling later in evening. If UK withdrawal stood firm, Secretary would want Fanfani’s judgment as to what might be done. U.S. felt it important that Western European technology advance, and sought means make U.S. technology available. President Johnson had recently sent Mr. Frutkin to Europe in this connection. Frutkin had found much interest in Germany, almost none in UK, with Italy somewhere between.

U.S. spent 30 billion dollars on research and development for all purposes, Secretary continued. Although we recognized differences in industrial capacity, and difficulties of starting “Marshall Plan for Technology”, way had to be found.

Fanfani welcomed Secretary’s statement. He thought Marshall Plan for Technology would show possibilities inherent in Atlantic Community concept. Italians were impressed by almost unbridgeable gap between U.S. and European technology. They favored identifying specific areas for cooperation to integrate U.S. and European efforts. If UK indeed dropped out of ELDO, Italian Cabinet had agreed that Italy would do same, and would devote resources instead to national research. Most of shifted funds would go to send people to U.S. for study. Fanfani thought Marshall Plan for Technology would have great attraction also in France, even if not with De Gaulle. It would also find receptivity in Eastern Europe and thus promote coexistence.

C.

U Thant. Secretary said U Thant would decide in June whether to serve as UN SecGen beyond present term. Although President Johnson in letter had urged him stay on, appeared strong possibility he would leave. Secretary foresaw great problems in finding successor in view Soviet veto power. He requested Fanfani as General Assembly President write U Thant urging him to stay on.

Fanfani said he had touched on subject with U Thant in Strasbourg but had learned little. He agreed to send letter now urging SecGen keep post.

Secretary thought U Thant motivated to leave UN by pressure from Ne Win, by family problems and by behind scenes Soviet pressure to exact concessions actions as price for supporting Thant’s continuation in office. Fanfani added as motive burden of UN financing question.

Fanfani thought family reasons might be overriding; suggested further exploration this motive. He thought former UN Deputy SecGen, Soviet national Milanya, who just ordained as Anglican priest, had spiritual ties with U Thant, and suggested Ralph Bunche could sound Milanya.

Fanfani added rumor was circulating that U.S. was opposed to U Thant’s continuation in office while Soviets supported it.

Secretary concluded by expressing hope for another talk with Fanfani before both left Brussels, to discuss Communist China and other matters.

As meeting broke up, Fanfani handed over aide-mémoire on Italian approach to EximBank concerning 45 billion lire purchase of supplies in U.S. for Fiat factories. Secretary observed problem was essentially technical, with no top-level political aspects. Text of aide-mémoire will follow septel.3

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 1 IT-US. Secret; Priority. Repeated to all NATO capitals. Secretary Rusk visited Belgium June 3-8 for the North Atlantic Council Ministerial meeting.
  2. August 3-5, 1961; for Fanfani’s summary of these talks, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XIII, Document 290.
  3. Not found.