Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs ( Rusk ) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State ( Matthews )


Subject: Netherlands New Guinea

The consequences of the impasse at The Hague Conference on the future status of Netherlands New Guinea are beginning to become apparent in Indonesia.2 In his telegram 870 of January 3,3 Ambassador Cochran reports that he has been informed that the Indonesian Cabinet has decided to communicate a statement to the Netherlands covering the following points:

The Indonesian Government regrets the deadlock reached at The Hague Conference on Netherlands New Guinea;
The Indonesian Government is willing to resume discussion on the basis of transfer of sovereignty over Netherlands New Guinea to Indonesia;
The Indonesian Government finds the situation within the Union so troubled by the question of Netherlands New Guinea, including the occupation of the territory of one Union partner by the other, that unless the Netherlands Government is willing to resume conversations on the basis of point two above, the Indonesian Government must [because of deep-seated public resentment which the present Government has tried to resist] reconsider its position with respect to the Union statute and other phases of the RTC agreement.4

Ambassador Cochran reports additionally that Parliament might proceed with discussion of the above statement and that a vote of confidence might come thereon without awaiting a reaction of the Netherlands Government. Ambassador Cochran reports that Parliamentary action may effect the statement outlined above but the Indonesian Government, after consultation with Parliamentary leaders, feels it will have the support of its Assembly on such a statement.

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The FBIB [ FBIS ?] reports that the PNI has refused to join the Government unless a Cabinet of true National Union, i.e., including Communist parties, is formed. I believe that the life of the Natsir Government5 which is about the best Government we can reasonably expect in Indonesia, is endangered by the Netherlands New Guinea problem, and I believe that its successor will rest far to the left of the present Government and will exhibit little of the friendly attitude toward the U.S.

The positions of Australia and the Netherlands have not altered materially, although there is some reason to believe that the Dutch Cabinet is having difficulties arising from Socialist criticism of the Government’s failure to reach agreement with Indonesia on NNG.

In view of the possible consequence to the United States of the Dutch Indonesian failure to resolve the NNG issue, I think you should convene a meeting as quickly as possible of the officers concerned to discuss what action, if any, should be taken in the premises. I understand that Mr. Nolting6 has already taken action to expedite a reply to our letter of December 21 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this problem.7

  1. For documentation, see ibid., pp. 1100 ff.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For documentation, see ibid., 1949, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 474 ff.
  4. Mohammad Natsir, Prime Minister of Indonesia since September 6, 1950, and Chairman of the Leadership Council of the Masjumi Party.
  5. Frederick E. Nolting, Jr., Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  6. Not printed.