656.56D/11–1751: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State


2968. From Cochran. Indo FonMin Subardjo asked me call morning 16th. Said he had presented orally to FonMin Casey of Australia afternoon 15th same proposal which he had submitted to US, i.e. re solution Irian question which wld involve de jure transfer of sovereignity to Indo but with arrangements made also with Australia and US.

Subardjo said Casey appeared quite interested in proposal, and promised discuss it with his people. He said Casey had already made plans to visit Hague over this weekend, returning to Paris Monday,1 but assured Subardjo he shld have no worry over this visit.

Subardjo said Casey asked whether presentation of Indo proposal to three powers might not be premature. Subardjo said he emphasized to Casey desirability of achieving amicable understanding on Irian before acute crisis reached Indo. Subardjo reaffirmed to me his worry over deterioration Indo-Neth relations as result Irian issue. He recalled progress Indo had made in direction favorable to Western powers since Sukiman govt came into office last spring. He said if govt and people of Indo learn US is sympathetic with and helpful towards Indo achieving its aspirations with respect Irian, then there will be no question but Indo will be most friendly to US and will demonstrate such friendship thru continuing course which Sukiman govt has initiated. Subardjo thought it wld be particularly unfortunate, considering problems that now exist between Moslem and Western countries, if Leftist opposition to his govt shld gain in influence as result of failure his govt achieve satisfaction on Irian question.

The Secy spoke to Casey afternoon 16 re Indo proposal for settlement Irian. It was arranged I shld give Casey background.

Was recd morning 17 by Casey with his Amb to Indo, Hood, and other advisers present. I explained I was not member of USDelGA, was not speaking for Secy or Dept, and was only there to continue conversations had with Casey at Djakarta few weeks ago and to bring him to date on latest Indo developments, particularly with respect Irian proposal. Casey said he understood my position and wld in no manner embarrass me if I wld talk frankly.

Casey said Subardjo had presented proposal to him orally. Casey interpreted this as Indo plan to reserve authoritative control of Irian to themselves, but to expect US and Australia put up the money. I [Page 726] thought there was more to proposition than this, particularly with respect to giving investment rights.

I permitted Casey have exact wording of proposal as Subardjo had submitted it in writing to me. Casey said he had told Subardjo any raising of question of transfer of sovereignty in Irian now would cause agitation in Australia. He recommended to Subardjo that question be kept dormant for present and that we all cooperate towards protecting our common interests from possible dangers from outside.

I told Casey I had consistently advised Indo Govt move slowly on contentious questions remaining with Neth, and endeavor resolve them by amicable negots. I still favored this, but had become convinced thru recent reports from Djakarta and from two conversations with Subardjo this week that genuine crisis existing on Irian question. In answer to his query, I told Casey no position had been taken by Secy in response to approach by Stikker presenting aide-mémoire on Indo sitn2 and likewise no position taken on Indo proposal. I said both matters being referred to Dept for appropriate consideration.

Casey said he also had recd copy aide-mémoire from Stikker. I questioned certain Neth arguments therein. I mentioned particularly allegation that Sukarno had turned out Masjumi sympathetic to West, namely Rum, Natsir and Sjafraddin, and imposed govt with anti-West PNI Party dominant. I expressed opinion Masjumi govt had fallen principally because reluctance above mentioned leaders to effect conciliation and coalition with PNI. I said present Sukiman govt had proved much more helpful to Western interest than any earlier Indo Govt. I mentioned specifically adherence to UN embargo on tin and rubber to China, refusal to receive 20 Chi Commie dipls, arrest of some 15,000 dissidents, principally Commie, and signing of Jap peace treaty in San Francisco. I said I was convinced present moderate govt supported by Sukarno and Hatta is desirous of having cordial relations with West, and is more likely achieve that result than any other Indo Govt now conceivable.

I referred to that section of Stikker’s aide-mémoire which envisaged possible solutions of Irian question once Neth has given aborigine inhabitants time to develop self-determination. I said Sukarno had frequently insisted to me that by retaining control over West Irian, Neth was holding pistol at head of Indo. Sukarno said Neth desires work from Irian as base and draw as much of East Indo into their orbit as possible with purpose splitting Indo and eventually recovering all thereof to Neth Crown. I said Indo’s fears for this augmented by Neth attitude toward and participation in Macassar and Ambon affairs. I said East Indo was part of NEI which had been most loyal to Crown [Page 727] and which Djakarta Govt was having most difficulty in consolidating into new state.

I said present Indo move should not be looked upon as one more Moslem anti-Western affair. I reminded Casey that both US and Australian Govts had taken decision to support Indo aspirations for sovereignty and Indos now turn to US to help what they consider to constitute completion of job.

Casey asked if I thought Subardjo proposal had more merit than his initial remarks to me indicated he attributed thereto. I answered affirmatively. I said I was genuinely concerned lest opposition to Sukiman govt should threaten under leadership of Sjahrir3 and others further to Left. I stressed importance having strong and friendly Indo from viewpoint both our countries, considering geographic position Indo and resources thereof, particularly petroleum, tin and rubber. I had been gratified at progress made in recent months with Sukiman govt and did not now want to see opposite trend away from Western powers.

I admitted Neth and Indo positions on Irian far apart, with sovereignty being the big question. I said both sides following usual tactics in entrenching before undertaking negots. I said Stikker insists his Parliament will not give two-thirds majority vote required for transfer of sovereignty, while Indos make early de jure sovereignty their prime demand. I said I had asked Subardjo 16th if his people could possibly consider some type trusteeship. He said this quite out of question.

Casey asked what I thought we should do. He said he was going to Hague this noon and would talk there with Stikker and other Neth officials who are certain to raise Irian question. I replied Indo Govt had been encouraged by Casey’s two visits to Indo and by reception accorded Subardjo and party at Canberra to believe Indo had sufficiently demonstrated its capacity for self-govt and its determination to put down dissident elements to convince Australia latter need have no fear from Indo being so incompetent in government or Leftist in character as to endanger Australia thru close neighborship in Irian. Casey admitted he had been agreeably impressed by progress. He had not realized until I told him that Indo had arrested 15,000 dissidents in August and September.

I expressed hope Casey could do something to bring Indo and Neth into conversations soonest. I said I feared Stikker’s intimation to Subardjo that present Neth Govt could not possibly transfer sovereignty might deter Indo Govt from sending Supomo mission to Hague to negotiate bilateral treaty to replace round table agreements. I hoped [Page 728] Neth might not close door so tightly. I said if Indo mission decides not to go to Hague, Parliament would undoubtedly denounce RTC agreements unilaterally. I said I had always argued against this and would continue to do so both here, in contact with Subardjo, and when I return shortly to Djakarta. I would regret unfortunate internatl repercussions from such measure and fear effects on Western interests in general. Casey asked if I thought matter trusteeship should fee put up to Indo at once as possible solution. I preferred leave to him matter of his approaches but thought little chance getting Indo enter negots if trusteeship is only solution held out by Neth. I said once conversations are undertaken with possibility of transfer of sovereignty not excluded, there might be some possibility of compromise on basis trusteeship, though I was extremely doubtful thereon. In answer Casey’s question, I said I did not intend to go Hague and US Emb there not in position discuss question prior receipt instructions from Dept. I did not anticipate early formulation such instructions. Casey said he would be in Washington in about two weeks and would be willing discuss question with Dept. He had time sound out his govt in interim. He promised get in touch with us after his week-end at Hague. Believed Dept need take no action on either Stikker’s aide-mémoire of Indo proposal until more indications available as to Australian attitude and result Casey’s conversations. [Cochran.]

  1. November 19.
  2. The reference is to Foreign Minister Stikker’s aide-mémoire of November 12; see footnote 2, p. 724.
  3. The reference is to Soetan Sjahrir, leader of the PSI.