258. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, August 29, 19571


  • New Guinea


  • The Honorable Sir Percy Spender, K.B.E., Q.C., Ambassador of Australia
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Jones—Deputy Assistant Secretary, FE
  • Mr. Walmsley—Deputy Assistant Secretary,IO

On his own initiative, the Australian Ambassador called on the Secretary today at 2:30. Sir Percy apologized for taking up the Secretary’s time on the New Guinea matter, but said that he had specific instructions to do so. Since the Secretary, he said, was aware of the Australian Government’s reasoning, the Ambassador said that he would spare the Secretary an exposition in this respect, but would simply leave an aide-mémoire2 and stress a couple of points.

Sir Percy had been made aware by the Netherlands Ambassador that the Department was undertaking a special study of the New Guinea issue. He reminded the Secretary of Sukarno’s intention to visit some Latin American countries shortly, which might result in an erosion in the General Assembly in favor of the Indonesian position. He thought that the implications of the adoption of any Indonesian resolution, however moderate, could be very serious. The sovereignty issue would be there, however well concealed it would be by a moderate resolution, and would at the same time attract broader support. He was sure that on the sovereignty issue the Dutch would not yield. He concluded by referring to the unstable political situation in Indonesia, particularly the communist influence in Java, and the implications for SEATO and the security of the area, which was a [Page 432] common concern of both the United States and Australia, although of immediate and special concern to his own country.

The Secretary confirmed that he had directed the staff to undertake a study of the New Guinea problem in the light of the present Indonesian situation; that is to say, the new factors in the picture, but he said that in talking of the matter with the Netherlands Ambassador he had stated that no inference was to be drawn as to a possible shift by the United States. The Secretary agreed that the political situation in Java was bad and that under such circumstances Indonesian control of New Guinea would be bad. This common concern of Australia and the United States indicated the importance of discussing the matter in the coming ANZUS meeting, in early October.

In concluding the conversation on this matter Sir Percywished to make an additional point. He said that in case the United States should not change its position on New Guinea from the present one of neutrality, could we not say to, for example, the Latin American delegations, who do not have the same political stake that the United States does, that they might oppose the Indonesian initiative. This might prevent the erosion that he feared from the Latin American side. The Secretary made no comment.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 741D.00/8–2957. Secret. Drafted by Walmsley.
  2. Dated August 29, not printed. (Ibid. )