176. Telegram From the Embassy in the Netherlands to the Department of State 0

1231. Paris for USRO. Department pass CINCPAC for POLAD. Re Embassy telegram 1196,1 repeated London 47, Paris 141, Djakarta 156, Canberra 79.

Saw Foreign Minister Luns for 35 minutes this morning, and he gave me brief report on his talks January 26 and 27 in London.
Luns opened conversation by again stressing importance of building up deterrent which Indonesians would recognize and have constantly in mind if they were tempted to engage in any adventure against West New Guinea. Luns and Foreign Minister Lloyd discussed what UK-Australia-US position would be in event of such Indonesian adventure. Luns advanced Menzies argument (paragraph 6 Embassy telegram 1157,2 repeated London 41, Paris 133, Djakarta 149, Canberra 74) that in event of Indonesian action, US and UK would necessarily stop assistance to Indonesia thus frustrating policy of West and forcing Indonesia into arms of Soviet bloc. Luns stated that Lloyd was impressed with this argument as it emphasized need for real deterrent to prevent Indonesia from starting anything that it would be difficult to stop. Luns evidently got assurances from Lloyd that in event of Indonesian military action against West New Guinea, UK would stop any assistance to Indonesia.
In connection this question of deterrent, Luns again emphasized and asked me to raise with Department question of having US ship call at West New Guinea port. Luns stated Dutch would not give such call any publicity or capitalize on it or in any way treat it as slap at Indonesia. He regards it solely as demonstration of US friendliness to Dutch for [Page 332] benefit to local population to indicate that Dutch are not alone in world. He visualizes one or two-day call with general visiting, at least by Dutch officers and men, with no hoopla. He added Dutch had refrained from saying anything to US when US Naval units visited Surabaya something over year ago. This idea is preying on Luns’ mind and I believe may result in formal request. Would be helpful if I could indicate to Luns Department’s preliminary reaction. While such visit would obviously be helpful here, we cannot attempt assess repercussions in SEA.
Also in connection deterrent question, Luns once again made same statement he has made number of times in past, namely, that both Secretary and Ambassador Jones should from time-to-time repeat to Indonesians US position re any Indonesian action against West New Guinea; it needs constant repetition if it is to serve as general deterrent.
Luns evidently did not receive any written statement from British or any copy of statement which British propose to give Indonesians. However, he received substance statements British gave Department, (Department telegram 1106,3 repeated London 6688, Paris Topol 2420, Djakarta 1326, Canberra 222) and apparently something more for Luns believes UK has gone further than US in two respects in supporting Dutch:
  • First, UK recognizes validity of Dutch legal claim to West New Guinea, and said so in communiqué issued end Luns’ visit (Embassy despatch 656, January 29).4 In this connection Luns again asked why US does not recognize validity of Dutch claim and feels very strongly that US should review that situation and if it does recognize legal validity, then US should say so.
  • Secondly, Lloyd told Luns specifically that he would advise Indos, if asked about UK assurances to Dutch, that UK would support Dutch in every way and that Lloyd was prepared to add that this “may well mean military assistance.” Luns stated further that Lloyd said of course he would provide Dutch with “logistical support” as US has said it would provide such support.
Luns raised question with Lloyd re possible military planning talks as next step in program of sensible preparedness against possible contingencies in New Guinea area. [3 lines of source text not declassified] British emphasized again to Luns that of course whole situation depended [Page 333] on US attitude and position. Luns asked me if Seventh Fleet was familiar with potential Indo threat against West New Guinea, and I told him I was quite sure appropriate military officials in Pacific area were familiar with general situation.
On subject of continuing British arms sales to Indo, Luns stated that in his opinion present conservative government was so scared of criticism by Labor Party and of unemployment issue that it could not forbid commercial contracts between British arms manufacturers and Indos. UK, however, would not seek any orders from Indo and regarded arms shipments to Indo as purely commercial operation. Nonetheless Luns said Lloyd made it very clear to him, and promised also to make it clear to Labor Party leaders, that in permitting such arms sales UK assumed very definite responsibility and obligation re their use. Luns went on to make one of most extreme statements he has made to date re Dutch position on this matter. He told Lloyd if Dutch were to find themselves alone on New Guinea issue and could not count on any real assistance, then “there would be one less partner in NATO”. While this is obviously a “Lunsism”, it reflects Dutch Government’s feeling that it should receive same support from its allies that it gives them in NATO.
Re foregoing aspects his London talks, Luns commented with tinge of injured feelings and slight suspicion, that he had not detected any indication that US-UK consultations prior his London visit had been conducted at very high level.
Re Fairey-Gannet planes, Luns said balance of twelve would not be delivered to Indos until 1960. Luns added that both he and British had heard that Indos were prepared to spend up to 50 million pounds for armament but both hoped this was wrong.
I asked Luns how he now viewed possible NAC discussion of this whole situation. He said Lloyd would go along with Dutch suggestion that only those countries should supply arms to Indo which could “guarantee their use”. I attempted to get more accurate interpretation or definition of this phrase but Luns would go no further in describing what he had in mind, if he knew himself. He did state that he expected British to draft statement for presentation to NAC which would be presented at same time as US statement. I told Luns I assumed US statement was being revised order bring it up-to-date and that Luns would be consulted on draft prior to its submission.
It seems to me two things are important in this connection: First, close coordination with UK on its statement; and, secondly, opportunity for Luns to review proposed US statement and to comment before its final submission. I believe that if this is done chances of blow-up in NAC can be minimized, furthermore, it would provide good opportunity [Page 334] here for discussion, in advance of meeting, of position Dutch plan to take.5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D13/1–2959. Secret. Transmitted in two sections and repeated to London, Paris, Djakarta, and Canberra.
  2. In telegram 1196, January 24, Young reported a conversation he had with Luns that morning during which he informed the Netherlands Foreign Minister that the United States had been in touch with the British regarding West New Guinea and that the British were fully aware of the U.S. position with respect to the possible use of force by Indonesia against West New Guinea. Luns was most appreciative and very pleased with the Department’s prompt response to his worries, the Ambassador noted, and delighted to have these facts before his upcoming meeting with Selwyn Lloyd. (Ibid., 656.56D13/1–2059)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 171.
  4. In telegram 1106, January 22, the Department transmitted the texts of separate draft statements that the United Kingdom was considering communicating to Indonesia and the Netherlands respectively regarding West New Guinea. (Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D13/1–2259) See Supplement.
  5. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.5641/1–2959)
  6. In telegram 1228 from The Hague, January 29, Young reported that [text not declassified] Luns indicated “that he felt British agreed that Indonesian attack would be forthcoming against West New Guinea, but with no speculation re timing.” (Ibid., 656.56D13/1–2959) See Supplement. The British Foreign Office official responsible for Indonesia confirmed this, as reported in telegram 3959 from London, January 30, which reads in part as follows:

    “Embassy officer discussed further, January 29, with Indonesia desk officer Foreign Office, discussions ending January 27 between Netherlands Foreign Minister Luns and HMG. Desk officer confirmed that British estimate on likelihood some kind of Indonesian attempt invade West New Guinea agrees with Dutch to extent this might happen and might in turn lead to incidents which would bring UN into picture and result in some kind of gains for Indonesians, though British would not go so far as Dutch do in predicting imminent danger of Indonesian attack.” (Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D13/1–3059)