186. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Prime Minister Rumor Cancels January Visit; Ultra-Left Suspected in Bombings

On Friday, just before the bombings in Rome and Milan,2 Prime Minister Rumor’s diplomatic adviser informed our Embassy that the Prime Minister (who still is down with flu) wished you to know that for internal political reasons he will be unable to make the visit to Washington proposed for January 13–14. Rumor believes that by mid-January the situation in Parliament will be such that he cannot absent himself; if he should go, he would probably be confronted on his return with a most difficult parliamentary and political situation, the outcome of which he cannot predict.

Rumor does not wish to embarrass you in any way, and he says it was a mark of his respect for you that he wished you to know at this time about his inability to meet the January dates. The Prime Minister would like to leave open the possibility of other dates being arranged [Page 640]later on. He hopes to see Ambassador Martin next week more fully to explain the background to his decision.3

Italy is shocked over the bombings in Milan and Rome which have killed 14 and injured 107 (no Americans). All government leaders have issued strong denunciatory statements and the Minister of the Interior has promised swift action. There are no solid facts on who is responsible, though the official speculation is that the ultra-left (the Maoisti and the anarchists) are to blame. No one has connected the incidents with labor strife. Police are rounding up the extremists of both the ultra-left and right who have terrorist backgrounds. All political meetings have been banned, including a neo-fascist meeting which had been previously scheduled for Sunday.

There is no evidence at this time that these events will lead to an immediate change in the government, which is seen to be acting forcefully. The eventual impact on the Italian political scene is unclear.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 694, Country Files—Europe, Italy, Vol. I Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. The December 12 bombings at a Rome branch of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and a Milan branch of the Banca Nazionale della Agricoltura were subsequently attributed to right-wing terrorists. In the Milan bombing, two right-wing extremists were eventually found guilty, but the conviction was overturned on appeal, and the case remains unresolved. The Milan bombing, commonly identified as the Piazza Fontana massacre, was the first in a long series of violent terrorist incidents in what became known as the “Years of Lead” (Anni del piombo).
  3. Martin met with Rumor on December 16 and reported on their conversation in telegram 7940 from Rome, December 16. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 694, Country Files—Europe, Italy, Vol. I)