Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani’s visit to the U.S. was an opportunity for he and President Kennedy to reach “a meeting of the minds” on the Jupiter-Polaris problem. The two had several conversations during the next two days on East-West relations, NATO nuclear issues, and the developing world, among other topics. During this conversation, with only the U.S. translator present, Kennedy explained to Fanfani that Polaris/Sergeant missiles as a replacement for Jupiter/Corporals, along with Italian participation in an eventual MLF, should be announced as “whole package” rather than to have “the different points of decision simply leak out, without coherence and possibly at the wrong moment.” He believed that the main elements of the agreement would find “general approval” among most political groupings in Italy. When Fanfani brought up the possibility of announcing the U.S. request on Jupiters and Polaris and then taking it to his government, Kennedy emphasized the need for quick action, adding that it would “not be desirable to allow for prolonged discussion” of the package.
At Fanfani’s request, Kennedy explained the arrangements for Polaris missions in the Mediterranean, which operated out of a base in the Iberian Peninsula (Rota, Spain), and the various options for an MLF, either surface or submarine ships. Such an approach, Kennedy believed, was a way to improve the “position of the West.” Accepting Kennedy’s assertions about the dangers of the Jupiter missiles, Fanfani nevertheless saw a “psychological” problem involving the “prestige and strength” of Italy’s armed forces. Kennedy “indicated lively interest” in Fanfani’s question as to whether the Jupiter bases could be used for “cooperative peaceful space efforts.”
At the meeting’s conclusion, Kennedy “stressed that by the following morning they should be able to combine four or five points into a proposal that would strengthen the Italian and American position within the framework of the Alliance, thus making this meeting a gain in its cohesiveness and hence political strength.”