181. Editorial Note

From February 10 to 15 Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio visited Australia to discuss with Australian officials the status of West New Guinea. The Embassy in Canberra summarized the results of Subandrio’s Australian trip in despatch 338 from Canberra, March 15. It reads in part as follows:

“Dr. Subandrio, Indonesian Foreign Minister, made an official visit to Australia February 10 to 15 for the purpose of holding high-level discussions with the Commonwealth Government toward the principal end of re-assuring Australia that Indonesia does not pose a threat to this country’s security.

“To accomplish this objective, it was necessary for Dr. Subandrio to place Indonesia’s claims to West New Guinea in a new, and if possible, more favorable context. The visit, therefore, was concerned essentially with the problem of West New Guinea, however much both parties may have endeavored to give the impression that this was not the paramount issue in the discussions.

“Dr. Subandrio’s frank and friendly exchanges with Prime Minister Menzies, External Affairs Minister Casey and other Australian officials provided an opportunity for each side to explain its position and policies. The result was the discovery of a broad area of understanding. No definite agreement was reached on the difficult problem of West New Guinea, but in a Joint Communiqué issued on February 14, Indonesia categorically ruled out the use of force as a means to settle this problem and Australia adopted a more flexible policy by agreeing not to impose objections if Indonesia were able to acquire this territory through peaceful negotiations with the Netherlands.

“Dr. Subandrio and the Australian leaders were able to place the West New Guinea problem in the broader context of Australian-Indonesian relations, in consequence of which the air has been cleared of considerable suspicion and distrust, a basis laid for more friendly relations, and the way pointed to a peaceful solution of the West New Guinea problem.

“The understanding incorporated in the Joint Communiqué brings Australia’s relations with Indonesia more into line with United States objectives and should serve to reduce Australian concern over United States economic and military assistance to Indonesia. The understanding should also serve to make Indonesia more aware that it does not of necessity have to seek its friends only among the Communist Bloc.” (Department of State, Central Files, 033.56D43/3–559)