February 6, 1957

NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV: Moscow, 2 – During a reception yesterday evening at the Finnish Embassy hosted by Finnish Prime Minister Karl-August Fagerholm, Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev, holding a glass of champagne in his hand, said, «This French champagne is good, and confirms my opinion that the French have always had good things.» Talking at length with an Italian journalist stationed in Moscow, the Soviet leader observed that «in Italy the people are good, but unfortunately they are very poor.» The Italian journalist replied that Italy has a surplus population, to which Khrushchev said: «This is where your system is wrong. Here in Russia we have reduced the working day to seven and six hours and we will reduce it further to three or two hours.» The Italian reporter asked Khrushchev to visit Italy and stay there for six months to resolve the problem. «You have a 1,000-year history and have not been able to solve it. How do you expect me to within six months?» asked Khrushchev. Asked whether he read Western newspapers, he said, «I think it is my duty, even if it is not always a pleasant one.»