112. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Netherlands Chargé (Van Voorst) and the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant), Department of State, Washington, September 13, 19551


  • Western New Guinea

During a conversation with Baron van Voorst, Mr. Merchant mentioned that we had heard from the Indonesians that they are anxious to improve their relations with the Dutch and had expressed the hope that it might be possible for the two governments to “negotiate on how to negotiate” regarding New Guinea. It appeared that this might possibly offer an opportunity to avoid consideration of this question at the UNGA this year.

Baron van Voorst said that they had heard directly from the Indonsians of their desire to bring about an improvement in relations with the Netherlands. He said that this word had come to them from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and from other officials in the Indonesian Foreign Office. He understood that the Indonesians had also mentioned the subject to the British and perhaps others. He went on to say that, as he had previously indicated to the Secretary, his government is also anxious to bring about an improvement in Dutch-Indonesian relations and that the Dutch Foreign Ministry had just recently put out a statement indicating that they are prepared to [Page 189] discuss all outstanding problems with the Indonesian Government.2 This would include New Guinea, provided Dutch sovereignty over the area is not brought into question as the previous Indonesian Government had always insisted. Similarly, the Dutch Government could not accept the item on Western New Guinea which the Afro-Asian powers have proposed for the UNGA Agenda. Baron van Voorst said his Government recognizes that, especially at this time, it is impossible for the new Indonesian Government to withdraw this item, but, as he had explained to the Secretary, his Government will be obliged to oppose its inscription and the passage of a resolution.

Baron van Voorst concluded by saying that they are much encouraged by the attitude of the new Indonesian Government and are of course most hopeful that it will be possible to bring about an improvement in Dutch-Indonesian relations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756C.022/9–1355. Confidential. Drafted by Dunham.
  2. A copy of the statement, made by a spokesman of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry on September 8, was attached to the source text.