90. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Multilateral Nuclear Force

PARTICIPANTS

  • Italy
    • President Segni
    • Foreign Minister Saragat
    • Federico Sensi, Diplomatic Adviser
    • Miss Bonaccorsi, Interpreter
  • United States
    • The President
    • Secretary Rusk
    • Neil Seidenman, Interpreter

The two Presidents began their private discussion (with only Sensi and the interpreters present) on the Italian political situation,2 and then passed on to the MLF. President Segni said that there are still problems within Socialist ranks on MLF. If the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, however, are faithful to the MLF concept, and the Socialists realize that this is a very important question for the United States; they also will agree to its creation. But it will take a little time, perhaps five or six months, particularly because much of the uncertainty on the part of the Socialists stems from the indecision of the British Labor Party. Segni said that of course Labor may say certain things now and then act differently later on, but Italy wants to form a majority on the MLF issue before the British elections, which will take place about November.

Later in the conversation, the President thanked Segni for his strong support for MLF. He said he thought the Paris discussions are [Page 178]going well and asked how Segni views them. Segni replied that they had proceeded satisfactorily. The issue would probably turn out as desired, based on conviction on the one hand. On the other hand, when the Nenni Socialists understand how strongly the United States feels about it, their endorsement will be forthcoming. This, incidentally, would ultimately signal their complete break with the Communists.

After a short discussion of the Atlantic community, the President asked Segni if he could be certain of Italy’s final position on MLF. Segni replied that at this moment he could not speak with complete certainty, but he felt reasonably sure that, with patience and fortitude, and Socialist realization of the importance of the issue for the United States, Italy would be able to support it.

Secretary Rusk entered with Foreign Minister Saragat at this point. Reviewing the day’s talks with the Foreign Minister,3 the Secretary said that there was agreement that Italy could take part in the talks going on about MLF without making any final commitments. Italy has meanwhile agreed to take part in the mixed-manned demonstration on a destroyer with the other five participants. It was agreed during the talks that it was necessary to allow time for discussions among certain elements within Italy and within the government. Hence it appeared that the time required for internal discussions in Italy and for the multilateral talks could coincide.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF (MLF). Confidential. Drafted by Stout and approved in the White House on January 18 and in S on January 19. The memorandum is “Second of 5 memoranda.” All five memoranda are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2356. The meeting was held at the White House.
  2. In the course of this discussion, Segni expressed concern about “problems arising from the Nenni Socialists,” in particular their stand on MLF. In response to a query from President Johnson, he underlined the “renewed firmness” with which both the Christian Democratic Party and Catholic Church were fighting Communism. A memorandum of this conversation is ibid.
  3. A memorandum of their conversation relating to MLF is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. XIII, Document 3. See also Document 89. A complete set of memoranda of conversation is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2356.