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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 26, 1966

TRANSCRIPT OF DISCUSSIONS ON THE OCCASION OF THE RECEPTION BY COMRADE NICOLAE CEAUSESCU OF MR. MARIO ZAGARI, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE IN THE ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

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    This document is a transcript of the conversation between Nicolae Ceausescu and Undersecretary of State in the Italian Foreign Ministry, Mario Zagari, in which Ceausescu states that Italy should do more to end American action in Vietnam.
    "Transcript of Discussions on the Occasion of the Reception by Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu of Mr. Mario Zagari, Undersecretary of State in the Italian Foreign Ministry," May 26, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, fond C.C. al P.C.R. – Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 75/1966, f. 1-14. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122573
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[…]

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: In my opinion, it is essential that we do more in order to put an end to the American aggression in Vietnam. Here I believe that Italy could do more than it does, because so long as this local war in Vietnam exists, it carries with it the danger of expansion and the Americans, by the way, are going along this path. Certainly, they would be making a very mistaken calculation if they consider that extending the war, or as they say continuing to escalate the war, they would arrive at negotiations. The bombing of North Vietnam, the extension of the bombardment has the effect of increasing the decisiveness of the Vietnamese in their fight against the Americans until they are defeated.

Not long ago our delegation visited D. R. Vietnam and came away with the impression, which we also knew before but which was confirmed even more, that the Vietnamese people is firmly decided to continue the fight and that the path that the Americans follow of imposing with arms so that the Vietnamese people capitulate will obtain nothing. But this war carries within itself a danger, because the socialist countries accord assistance to Vietnam, and will continue to accord this assistance and, certainly, one always knows where one begins but not where one ends up; when the battle begins, it is difficult to presuppose where it will end.

Because of that, we should make the effort so that the Americans renounce their actions in Vietnam and the first thing would be to renounce the bombing of North Vietnam. That would be a concrete fact, which would demonstrate there does exist a concordance between words and deeds; otherwise, all of the talk about peace and negotiations is not worth two cents.

Here, we believe that Italy could do more. We know that other countries in NATO also have taken very firm positions towards the bombing of Vietnam; I do not know if the Italian government also shares the opinion of its partners such as France and Denmark, who have taken positions and exercise some sort of pressure on the Americans. Italy is a large country that collaborates with the Americans and it could advice them and not only advise, but it could raise the issue with them that they must nonetheless renounce this aggression. That would be a concrete assistance for peace and if the cessation of bombing against D.R. Vietnam would be obtained, then that would be a first important step on the path to the resolution of this problem. The Americans say that they do not want to remain in Vietnam; then what for what purpose do they bring troops there, and build fortifications, if they say they are ready to leave there? Would it not be better to stop bringing them, so that it is not necessary to withdraw them again, to so nothing of the problem of prestige!

Vietnam, ourselves, and all of the socialist countries consider that the problem of the Vietnamese cannot be resolved except with the withdrawal of Americans from Vietnam.

This would be an issue where more could be done. See, here is a domain of collaboration between Romania and Italy! Two Latin countries can act; and there is also France, which has the same position; thus, three Latin countries of Europe; and there are also other countries that are not Latin, but which want this. Truly, we could act in this direction with good results. You could advise the Americans and when they see that they are not supported by France nor by Italy, they will be obliged to think on it and take account of it.

[…]

Mr. Mario Zagari: I thank you very much Mr. General Secretary for consenting explaining to us the positions of the Romanian government and party with such clarity and frankness.

… All of these issues were broached on the occasion of the discussion with Mr. Minister Manesecu and I will bring them to the attention of our foreign minister, so that when Mr. Minister Manescu will come to Rome, he can be examined. Given that, I would not want to anticipate the response, but all of these issues will be the object of an attentive examination from the part of our government.

Before everything, I must say that those speculations that have appeared in the western press do not interest us in the least. We have closely followed your activity in the domain of international policy, as well as in the interior of the international workers movement, in order to be able to distinguish what is mere speculation. We know well that Romania follows its own line, a line that we appreciate as very realistic, which can be of great utility to everyone.

Regarding us, I must say that our foreign minister is always the man who was elected president of the UN General Assembly with the vote of the Romanian government. His desire to bring a contribution to the resolution of the problem of Vietnam is more alive than ever. There is no doubt that a country like ours which was engaged in war for many years, cannot arrive all at once where we would desire for it to be. Given that, in foreign policy we must take into account a double prudence: the internal prudence in order not to be separated from the movement within the country, which is certainly a positive movement, even if it is slow, and the situation which binds us to the U.S.A. where, under certain aspects, the isolation would not be ours but that of the U.S.A., because there will be a wave of isolation of the U.S.A.

Remember that in the U.S.A. as well there are powerful currents that would like to reach a solution to this problem, however they want to reach it together with the others. I know that they hold very much to the position of the Romanian government in this problem and they do so with sincerity, not just for propagandistic considerations.

Fanfani, in his discourse to the Senate, spoke of the Italian action with prudence, he confirmed this action no waiting what others will do, but our own contribution, in certain limits, which could be more advanced and more in function with what Italy can do. A point of equilibrium must be found so that dangerous ruptures do not occur.

However, I can assure you that the government of Italy has a feeling for this conflict and especially the possibility that this conflict will expand, as well as its implications. We are speaking of finding all of us together, through all possible contacts, a line that then will be accepted by all on the basis of the principle that you know so well, the right to self-determination, that the Vietnamese people can decide their destiny themselves.

[…]

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