172. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State0

2245. Shortly after I sent Embtel 22211 Dr. Tamzil of President’s Cabinet informed me Mrs. Jones was invited to accompany me and he understood we would be expected to stay for lunch at Bogor Palace. [Page 321]Upon arrival we were greeted by President and Madame Hartini who were accompanied by several other guests, including the Paku Alam and the head of the Indonesia Red Cross.

After usual exchange of courtesies, reason for President’s invitation became evident. He drew me aside and said urgently “What about the Electras? Can you assure me that we will get them?” I had seen Subandrio’s car pass mine leaving Palace as I arrived so I believe Sukarno had been fully briefed on conversation reported Embtel 2229.2

Sukarno said that he had three reasons why it was most important for Indonesia to have the Electras. He said the reasons were political, economic and personal. I told the President that I regretted I could not assure him that he would receive the Electras but promised that I would report our conversation in full to Washington. I emphasized that the DC–7 was an excellent aircraft and pointed out that the Export-Import Bank has the duty of determining the soundness of any project for which it loaned money, as is the case with any bank. Sukarno asked if the US did not manufacture aircraft to sell them and stated that Indonesia’s credit was good. He said, “we do not want second hand aircraft, we want new aircraft”, these Electras we have been talking about for so long. He said that he realized DC–7’s were good but Electras were matter of prestige. He implied not only Indonesia’s prestige but his personal prestige.

I explained the developments in Washington including Moekarto’s exposition of Indonesian Government position.3 Sukarno said that Ambassador Moekarto had misunderstood his instructions, that the letter cancelling the Lockheed contract should never have been written and the priorities never passed to us as was done. Sukarno appeared highly displeased with Moekarto’s performance in this matter. At end of our conversation on other matters, President reverted to Lockheeds and again during lunch he pressed very hard on this subject.

Comment: In view strong personal appeal by President in this case, I believe, contrary to opinion I expressed in Embtel 2229, that US interests require reconsideration this matter. In view of Sukarno’s exceptional strong feelings, I believe Department must discount position set forth by Moekarto.

[Page 322]

It was clear in this morning’s conversation that President cannot understand our reluctance to sell Electras to Indonesia and that in his eyes his own personal prestige as well as prestige his country involved. This is most sensitive nerve. If our policy is to be successful, Sukarno as well as other leaders here must be convinced that Indonesia will receive support they need from US. In very real sense, Electras have become test case.

In my comment yesterday I thought Subandrio was saying “We want Electras but can live with adverse decision”. Sukarno does not subscribe to this view.

Jones
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.5622/1–1759. Secret; Niact.
  2. Telegram 2221, January 16, reported that Jones had just received a call from the palace setting up an appointment with Sukarno for the following morning. (Department of State, Central Files, 123 Jones, Howard P.)
  3. Telegram 2229, January 16, reported on a conversation between Subandrio and Jones regarding the Lockheed Electras loan. (Ibid., 956.72/1–1659) See Supplement.
  4. Reference is to a January 8 meeting between Ambassador Mukarto and Assistant Secretary Robertson on the Export-Import Bank’s decision to turn down Indonesia’s request for a loan to help finance the purchase of three Lockheed Electra aircraft. (Memorandum of conversation, January 8; Department of State, Central Files, 856D.10/1–859) See Supplement.