12. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Jones) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)0


  • Tripartite Talks Regarding Indonesia

You will recall that when you were in Paris at the NATO talks in December, you agreed with Mr. Lloyd to the establishment of a small U.S.-U.K. working party on Indonesia which was to discuss U.S.-U.K. cooperation [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] “to consider longer term policy matters” in Indonesia.1

At the organizational meeting, which took place in late December, the British insisted that the Australians be included. So far five meetings have been held, at the last four of which there has been representation from the Pentagon (Mr. Sprague’s office).2

[2 lines of source text not declassified] The meetings revealed that the British objective was to obtain a firm statement regarding United States policy toward Indonesia which they apparently feared was directed at establishing a fragmented Indonesia.

In the course of the first meeting we explained that we envisaged a two-pronged operation in Indonesia: the first designed to attempt to bring about a new government on Java by encouraging the non- and anti-Communist elements there to cooperate with each other in the face of the threat from the PKI; at the same time both to reinforce non- and anti-Communist elements on Java and to assure a fall-back position should Java be lost, [8 lines of source text not declassified].

The rest of the meetings have been devoted to an examination of the considerations involved in supplying the Indonesian Government with rice and arms; what, if anything, could or should be done about West New Guinea; by whom and under what circumstances should the gap left by the Dutch be filled, particularly with regard to shipping; and finally, what would be the best manner in which to proceed to delay delivery of the four warships the Indonesian Navy now has on order in Italy. The consensus of the group, which reflected the views of London and Canberra, was that the risks involved in trying to prevent the imminent delivery of two frigates was not worth the advantages to be gained, [Page 26] as the frigates will not provide the decisive military advantage to the Central Government. The question of whether to attempt to delay the delivery of the two corvettes (now scheduled for May) is under urgent study.

In addition, agreement has been reached regarding a joint estimate of developments in Indonesia since August 1957. A copy of this is attached. (Tab A)3 A subcommittee is also working on a joint contingency paper which will contain recommended courses of action regarding the diplomatic and legal attitude to be assumed toward the dissidents.

The Australians have had little to contribute and on instructions from their Government have spent most of their time raising questions and seeking information. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

Further meetings will be held, but I think it best to keep these on an ad hoc basis to face specific problems as they may arise, a position which at this point would appear to satisfy the British but may not be too palatable to the Australians. Should we try to terminate the working group, However, it is not impossible that the Australian reaction will be to send Mr. Casey to this country or even to call a special ANZUS meeting. Neither of these developments at this juncture would seem to me to be helpful.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/2–658. Top Secret. Drafted by O’Sullivan on February 5.
  2. Dulles was in Paris for the NATO Heads of Government meeting, held December 16–19, 1957; see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXII, pp. 552553.
  3. No other record of these meetings has been found in Department of State files.
  4. Not attached to the source text and not found.