131. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • The Secretary’s Talks with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris, July 5—Indonesia


  • French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville
  • French Ambassador, Hervé Alphand
  • M. Louis Joxe, Secretary General of the French Foreign Office
  • M. Jean Laloy
  • M. Pierre Sebilleau
  • M. Jacques Baraduc
  • M. Jean Daridan
  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Amory Houghton
  • Mr. Cecil Lyon
  • Mr. C. Burke Elbrick
  • Mr. Andrew Bending
  • Mr. Philip Farley
  • Mr. Randolph Kidder
  • Mr. John Tuthill
  • Mr. Matthew Looram

With regard to Indonesia, the Secretary noted that there had been a spontaneous revolt, particularly in Sumatra and the Celebes, against Sukarno’s trend toward Communism. [1 line of source text not declassified] In view of the arms they had received, the rebels in Sumatra could have made a serious stand, but unfortunately they did not do so. They had since withdrawn to the jungle, but had not as yet given up. In the Celebes the rebels had shown more will to fight and this was partly due to outside air support. In Sumatra the Indonesian Government had had complete control of the air, which had had a demoralizing effect.

Some six weeks ago, the Secretary said, we had concluded that the rebels were going to collapse unless they received overt assistance. We accordingly decided to see if, before the embers of the rebellion became completely cold, we could not get the Indonesian Government to move away from the Communist camp. We were then told that Sukarno would revamp the cabinet. This was in fact done, but the new cabinet had reflected no basic change in orientation. As a result, we had given our Ambassador instructions to tell Sukarno that unless he took positive [Page 237] steps away from Communism, it would not be possible to prevent the neighboring countries from rendering assistance to the rebels. In the Philippines, Taiwan and Korea, there was great concern over developments in Indonesia and accordingly a desire to help the rebels. The situation might therefore come to a head very soon: either Sukarno would come around or increased rebel activity would be permitted. It must be recognized, the Secretary stated, that Sukarno was extremely adroit and was getting considerable matériel of a military nature from the Soviet Union and Communist China.

In response to the French Foreign Minister’s request for the Secretary’s over-all estimate of Sukarno, the Secretary said that Sukarno was like Nasser in many respects. He undoubtedly wished to be independent. However, he thought that he could accept Communist aid and still remain independent. In fact he was becoming more and more dependent on the Soviets. Of course, it must be noted, the Secretary stated, that there was a very large and effective Communist party in Indonesia. The economic conditions of the country were deplorable and the Communists thrived on this situation. If elections were held today, the Secretary said, the Communist party would undoubtedly receive more votes than they had obtained the last time.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/7–558. Top Secret. Drafted by Looram of WE. Dulles was in Paris for talks with French leaders July 3–5.