213. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • President Nixon’s Meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Aldo Moro on October 11, 1971, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in the Oval Office of the White House


  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
  • Ambassador Egidio Ortona
  • Mr. Neil Seidenman (Interpreter)

The President said he is always glad to see the Foreign Minister, and particularly at this time, while he is in the US for the UN General Assembly, and prior to his return to his country to face some rather serious political problems.

Foreign Minister Moro thanked the President, adding that it was comforting to know that the President has followed the situation in Italy with such close attention and understanding. Indeed, there are problems in that quarter. The Foreign Minister stated that he nevertheless had hope and confidence that even against a background of an agitated situation in the area of social issues, there are other areas of solid ground, in particular that of foreign policy. The President can be assured that in this area, despite the various controversies that crop up among the coalition parties, there is no conflict with regard to the United States and fidelity to the Atlantic Alliance as the mainstay of Italian policy. Even the PSI, which has a number of internal problems, is steadfast on this score. At the present time, looking toward the Presidential elections, it is difficult to foresee what difficulties may arise. Some parties may hold back and shift position according to electoral needs. However, they can surely be counted upon to act with a sense of responsibility, particularly in the light of requirements affecting social issues, while having to work concurrently against the problems of recession. Still, it is likely that they will proceed with greater responsibility in view of decreasing public disorder over recent months. Hence it would seem one is justified in hoping to overcome the critical social issues and to move in harmony with the other members of the European family. It should also be noted that with the political monopoly of the Soviet Union dissolving, repercussions are being felt within the PCI. [Page 714] Because of this, there is a general trend toward greater freedom of action in the political sphere and strengthened interest in the problems of Europe, with all political forces at work enjoying increasing freedom from pressures from the Soviet Union.

The President observed that as we look at the free world today, we see more than one hundred nations of all sizes. But as we look at these, with their economic, political, and military strength, in being or potential, we can look at the free world as “one hand.” In Europe, the major nations are four: Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain. With the US there are five, and looking at another part of the world, Japan makes six. But what these countries do together, to the extent they are able to develop similar policies in the economic field and other areas, including actions in the area of their foreign policies, they will greatly influence and affect the future of freedom in the world. That is why we consider that we have a special relationship with Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan. However, this does not mean that tiny nations are not important to us, such as Chad. But we must be sure to maintain close consultation among the major powers of the free world about how to face issues that confront us.

The President said he was aware that Secretary of State Rogers had discussed the US approach to the difficult vote coming up at the UN. He said he wished to reaffirm our position on this matter as it was stated to him by Secretary Rogers. The President said he was aware that this represented a hard problem for Italy. However, with reference to the US position, our view is that for the UN not to consider the expulsion of a member country from that body to be an Important Question would constitute a disastrous precedent. Were that position to be approved, the President saw the possibility of future situations, at times when emotions were high, for example, where if one or more nations did something that was not to the liking of a simple majority of members, they would be out, and that could mean the collapse of the Organization. This is why we deem it essential to have the issue of expulsion considered as an Important Question. In the second place, support for the UN in Congress would be in jeopardy, if it were felt in that body that the United States could not obtain enough support at the UN to have something of critical importance in our view considered as an important question. The President added that he was not making these statements in order to put pressure on the sovereign and independent government of a good friend, but simply to explain why the US considers this matter to be so essential.

Mr. Moro thanked the President for his very articulate and tactful approach to the issue, especially with reference to the first point he had made. Italy has every wish as an independent nation and as a part of Europe to work with the United States. The emergence of “new centers [Page 715] of influence” means to Italy precisely that the countries of Europe, Europe as a whole, and the United States will seek common approaches to the greatest number of issues, certainly on all the important problems. It is for this reason that there is confidence that solidarity among friends will enable our countries to find solutions to economic and monetary problems that have come to the fore. With reference to the second subject raised by the President, Italy is very much aware of the weight and seriousness that the US attaches to this question, which has been set forth with great eloquence. For this very reason, the Italians find themselves in very difficult circumstances. The United States, of course, thanks to the President’s bold and forward-looking initiative, has taken an important step toward China. Italy has moved further down the road of diplomatic relations with China, and within this context is eminently aware of the weight and importance that China attaches to a vote of recognition, which must be recognition as the only legitimate government of the Chinese people. Then, as the President is undoubtedly aware, the Italian government is at grips with the domestic political considerations involved. Each year Italy has had to face this issue, trying to balance all the pressures surrounding it, personified by Hon. Nenni who has long been one of the staunchest advocates of recognition, as well as for solidarity with the US. Nenni, himself, will visit China October 20. It is in the light of this background that it is useful to gather the views of the US on this particular matter so that they might be fully and accurately conveyed to the Government of Italy and help toward making a responsible decision. The President may be certain that the very last thing the Italians want is to do something that would dismay the US. Every effort is made so that whatever is done will help, not harm the US. Therefore it is with this spirit of friendship toward the US that Italy will take up this question in great earnest, at the same time coupled with an acute awareness of the international implications of the problem, and recognizing the possible domestic repercussions concerned. The Foreign Minister reiterated his appreciation to the President for the delicate manner in which he presented this issue, and again gave assurances that all of the President’s comments would be taken very closely into account by the Government of Italy in reaching a decision.

The President suggested that the two governments remain in very close touch regarding the matter. Dr. Kissinger would be back from his trip to the PRC,2 before the vote takes place.

Mr. Moro agreed, stating that Ambassadors Ortona and Vinci would be entirely available for consultation.

[Page 716]

Dr. Kissinger stated that he did not foresee that anything would happen during his visit to Peking that would affect the voting, therefore nothing of an embarrassing nature should be expected.

Mr. Moro asked the President what the strategic outlook was, with regard to China, setting aside the tactical approach, which he understood at this point. What are the prospects for a solution to the problem of Formosa vis à vis China, given Formosa’s insistence that its government should represent the Chinese people? Does the President envision an ultimate solution to this problem, or does he think of this in terms of a situation that will endure and which must be accepted by all parties concerned?

The President said that it might be interesting to hear from Dr. Kissinger in this connection when he returns from his trip, barring those aspects of the discussions there that cannot be readily divulged. But essentially it is an historical process.

Dr. Kissinger stated that in the first place, we have been careful at the UN not to take a position with regard to this. The analogy we draw of this is the case of the two votes accruing to the Soviet Union, considering the vote of Byelo-Russia. This would constitute a precedent for two votes by one country within the UN. In the second place, it is a question of taking a historic viewpoint, as pointed out by the President. The fact that both governments involved agree that there is only one China may make an eventual negotiated solution easier. There might be greater difficulty were one of the governments to claim that there are two Chinas. Hence we would not have to make a judgment as to legitimacy of governments involved.

The President at this point said he wished only to stress that the issue must not be settled by force. This is admittedly not a clear answer, but the situation itself is not clear and is very complex. The President emphasized further that he was aware of the domestic implications of this issue in Italy. But he said he could not himself underestimate the problems the US would have regarding our relationship with the UN if Taiwan is expelled from the Organization.

Mr. Moro congratulated the President for the work the US is carrying forward in seeking an end to the problem of the Middle East. Secretary Rogers’ quiet, patient mediations has been resourceful and admirable, and while they have yet to produce concrete results, still they constitute the essential thread that holds the parties to the search for an ultimate solution. While Israel and Egypt continue to maintain their divergent positions, there would seem to be some hope that a formula for opening the Canal as a partial solution might constitute a necessary step toward the larger solution that is sought. In this regard, the work [Page 717] of Secretary Rogers is essential and encouraging as a vital contribution on the part of the US to world peace, and toward avoiding another conflagration in that part of the world.

The President thanked the Foreign Minister for his remarks, and expressed his appreciation for the role of Italy in the Middle East problem, as the major Mediterranean power involved, therefore having much at stake. The President concluded by saying, “Without getting myself into Italian politics: Buona fortuna!”

Mr. Moro thanked the President, expressing the hope that it would be within their power to continue to move toward progress along lines for freedom, justice, and friendship toward the United States.

The President observed that President Saragat has been a strong president who has consistently acted in support of these principles.

At the end of their remarks, Mr. Moro approached the President to ask whether he envisioned early efforts to solve the economic and financial problems at issue. The President reassured him on this score, saying that the US is not going to become isolationist. He said that the IMF meeting was set up so as to work toward establishing a solid structure, and that Minister Ferrari Aggradi was helpful.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Memos for the President. Secret.
  2. October 16–25.