Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Indonesian and Pacific Island Affairs (O’Sullivan)


Participants: Mr. van Kleffens, Netherlands Ambassador
FE—Mr. Rusk
WE—Mr. Scott
UNP—Mr. Stein
PSA—Mr. O’Sullivan

Mr. van Kleffens called at his request this morning. He said it was with great pleasure that he could deliver a note (Attachment A1) setting forth, with regard to the future status of Netherlands New Guinea, the position of his Government which the Dutch Cabinet had decided upon and which he had received instructions to draft and deliver. He then read the text of the note. (Sent as telegram 403 to Djakarta, 92 to Canberra, 434 to The Hague, 2090 to London.2)

In reply to a question, Mr. van Kleffens stated that he often prepared an answer to a letter before he received the inquiry. He then read what he described as an informal memorandum (Attachment B3) setting forth the Dutch reaction to the recent Australian note delivered to the Netherlands Ambassador at Canberra on the future status of Netherlands New Guinea. (Sent as telegram 91 to Canberra, 402 to Djakarta, 2091 to London, 433 to The Hague.2)

Mr. van Kleffens then requested that the Aide-memoire be brought to the attention of the Secretary as his Foreign Minister, Mr. Stikker, desired to discuss the future status of Netherlands New Guinea with the Secretary at London.

In accepting the Aide-mémoire, Mr. Rusk said that he would be happy to see that it was brought to the attention of the Secretary (the Aide-mémoire was forwarded to the Secretary under cover of a memorandum from Mr. Rusk to Mr. Battle).

In answer to a question, Mr. van Kleffens said that the Netherlands Government did not envisage a continuation of its control in Netherlands New Guinea in the form of a trusteeship. He said that his Government did not like the manner in which the administering powers were treated in the Trusteeship Council where, as he was sure [Page 1018]we knew, they are like “prisoners in the dock”. Mr. van Kleffens admitted that the present Dutch position represents a change from their position last Autumn. He said that at that time, the Dutch Government had proposed a Netherlands Trusteeship for Netherlands New Guinea in the hope that such an arrangement would be acceptable to the Indonesians and would have liquidated the problem.

Mr. Rusk stated that there was some doubt in our minds regarding whether UNCFI is an appropriate organ to act as “go between” in the question of the future status of Netherlands New Guinea as the interests of some of its members were involved. He emphasized that this was by no means a firm or final departmental decision but is one of the factors that has entered into our consideration of the problem.

In answer to a question, Mr. van Kleffens said that he did not know whether the Australians had delivered a note setting forth their position on the future status of Netherlands New Guinea to the Indonesians. Mr. Rusk mentioned that while we were not sure, we thought that the Australian note had in fact been delivered to RUSI. (Subsequently, Mr. Scott and Mr. O’Sullivan phoned Mr. Helb, Counselor of the Netherlands Embassy, to state that our information was to the effect that the note had been delivered. Shortly after this conversation, Canberra’s telegram 139 of May 4 was received,4 and Mr. Helb was then informed that our previous information was in error and that the Australian note was not in Indonesian hands.)

Mr. van Kleffens dilated at some length during the conversation on the fact that future status of Netherlands New Guinea was only one of many factors affecting the relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia and it was by no means the most important. He added that it was likewise only one of many factors which would affect the stability of the regime in Indonesia.

In reply to a question, Mr. van Kleffens said that while public opinion in Netherlands New Guinea was not developed, the indications were, particularly among the Christianized natives who, he said, formed an appreciable portion of the population, that the inhabitants of Netherlands New Guinea desired the continuation of Netherlands control. He indicated that the Netherlands would not be adverse to a sounding of public opinion on this matter, provided, of course, it would be run on principles other than those used by the Indonesians to assess public sentiment.

  1. No copy of the note was found attached to the source text; however, a copy of note 2440, handed to Rusk on May 4 by the Ambassador, not printed, is certainly a copy of the note under reference. It stated that for political, ethnic, cultural, economic, and geographic reasons the Netherlands Cabinet believed Western New Guinea should remain under Dutch authority. (756C.00/5–450)
  2. Not printed.
  3. No copy of this memorandum was found attached to the source text; however, a copy of a similar memorandum bearing the handwritten notation “Handed Mr. Rusk by the Netherlands Ambassador 4 May 50,” not printed, stated that the disposition of Western New Guinea was a matter for decision between the parties of the Round Table Conference. (756C.00/5–450)
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.