135. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Internal Italian Political Situation
- The Honorable Mariano Rumor, Secretary General of the Italian Christian Democratic Party
- His Excellency Egidio Ortona, Ambassador of Italy
- The President
- Mr.Walt W. Rostow, Special Assistant to the President
- Mr. Joseph Califano, Special Assistant to the President
- Mr. Neil Seidenman, Department of State Interpreter
Mr. Rumor said that as a responsible representative of the Italian Christian Democratic Party, he wished to convey some information which the President, who shoulders such great responsibilities throughout the world, might be pleased to hear. Mr. Rumor said that the Italian political situation today is characterized by stability. He said that the center-left coalition and the inter-party agreements are working well and will continue on a solid footing for a long while to come. Mr. Rumor said that he and his associates had from the beginning felt that the United States would stand behind them in the efforts they had been making in recent years. They were convinced that they were moving on the right path toward the stability of democratic institutions in Italy. Mr. Rumor said that this political stability had benefitted the economy as well, to the extent that Italy had recovered from the 1964 recession.
Mr. Rumor said that the Italian national elections in 1968, which will take place before those to be held in the United States, promised to be of particular significance. Hopefully the elections will further consolidate the existing situation in Italy. It was because of these elections that his discussion with the President was of significant importance. Mr. Rumor said that to put the matter simply, the work being carried out in Italy is undertaken with the knowledge that America, despite its geographic distance, stands behind them.
The President assured Mr. Rumor that no one takes greater interest in these matters than we in the United States.[Page 283]
Mr. Rumor thanked the President and said that he was quite sure that this was true for, in fact, Italy represented a sort of boundary line with the Communist East. For this reason, the success of the Christian Democratic Party contributes to the strength of democracy throughout Europe. In addition, it promotes the development of unity in the European Community which the United States desires and in which the United States places its confidence. Mr. Rumor said, however, that there are some roadblocks to be overcome such as the resistance on the part of the French. With patience and perseverance, however, our efforts will succeed and we will arrive at the day when Great Britain will join Europe and when political unification will be attained.
The President said that no one should have the impression that there is any less interest in the United States concerning the affairs of our friends in Italy and in Europe because of the problems which we must cope with in other parts of the world. He said that our interest in Latin America, Africa, and especially Viet-Nam caused no diminution in our interest in Europe. The President said that we will continue to do our duty in these other areas, but we will also continue consistently to give our attention and understanding to matters of concern to Europe.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Italy, Vol. 5. Confidential. Drafted by Seidenman. The memorandum is Part II of IV. The meeting was held at the White House.↩