501.BC Indonesia/1–1149

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

Participants: Mr. E. N. van Kleffens, Ambassador of the Netherlands
Mr. Helb, Counselor, Netherlands Embassy
Mr. Lovett, Acting Secretary of State
Mr. Butterworth, Director, FE
Mr. Nolting, NOE

Mr. van Kleffens and Mr. Helb called at their request to discuss Security Council action in the Indonesian case. Mr. van Kleffens expressed [Page 140] the fear that another proposal for the withdrawal of Dutch troops from Republican territory would be offered in the Security Council. He stated that his Government could not acquiesce in such a proposal, in as much as chaos would result in the evacuated territory and the Netherlands Government was determined to carry through its obligation to launch a free and independent United States of Indonesia under conditions which would give it the best chances of success. He stressed the point that Queen Juliana’s recent speech and other official pronouncements of his Government were sufficient evidence to the world of the Dutch intentions to grant sovereignty to a United States of Indonesia.

I replied that the Indonesian problem had been blown up, as a result of Dutch military action, to a point where it was extremely difficult to handle. I said that public and Congressional opinion might force us in a direction which would be extremely adverse to the interests both of the Netherlands and of the United States, including jeopardizing ECA aid to Holland and the North Atlantic Security Pact. To the Ambassador’s arguments that public reaction was unjust to the Dutch, and to his contention that American public opinion was split on this question, I replied that we had to face the political reality of an extremely adverse reaction to the Dutch attack and that what the Dutch have stated as their intentions in Indonesia was not sufficient to take the heat out of the situation. I said that I could not recommend what they should do but felt strongly that they should do something positive as an earnest of their bona fides. I particularly mentioned the release of the Republican leaders and stated that while I did not know whether the Netherlands could name a date for the transfer of sovereignty, I felt that something along that line might be the answer. I mentioned particularly the serious possibilities inherent in the Asian conference called by Nehru.

Mr. van Kleffens went on to explain where the Dutch would move from here. He stated on the one hand that the Republican leaders had seemed to welcome liberation by the Dutch from their extremist following, and, on the other hand, that Hatta’s influence and popularity seemed to be declining in Java because of the fact that he is a Sumatran. He stated it was the intention of the Netherlands Prime Minister, Mr. Drees, now in Batavia, to sample public opinion with a view to finding out who might represent the Republican state in the interim government which the Dutch expect to form shortly. Ambassador van Kleffens requested that this Government do what it could to resist a “desperate move” in the Security Council, affirming that his Government would not wish to be placed in a position of nonconformity with Security Council action.

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I made it very clear that the situation was one in which “almost anything could happen”, and that I was greatly disturbed, although not completely surprised, by developments since the Dutch undertook military action.

Ambassador van Kleffens said that he would convey the gist of our conversation immediately to his Government.

Robert Lovett