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

2829. CINCPAC also for POLAD. During 45-minute conversation with Senator H. Alexander Smith,1 Sukarno made unusually strong [Page 359] pitch for US to change its position of neutrality on West New Guinea, emphasizing this major question which separates two countries psychologically.

Reaction came in response to Senator Smith’s question as to how US could best help Indonesia. President expressed great gratitude for military and economic assistance but repeated statement frequently made in the past that moral and political support even more important to Indonesia than material support. He again said, “Don’t let Communists win this game,” pointing out that international Communists supported Indonesia strongly on this most sensitive question. He referred to speeches of Ho Chi Minh during visit to Indonesia,2 pointing out in every speech on whatever occasion Ho had stressed support of Indonesia’s claim to West New Guinea. Sukarno put everything he had into appeal. “Change your position on this issue and I will stand up and tell Indonesian people that US is their real friend,” Sukarno said.

Senator Smith responded that he was here on goodwill mission and would take back President Sukarno’s message but that he was not authorized or prepared to enter into discussion of policy questions.

When Senator Smith referred to Syngman Rhee in commenting on his itinerary, Sukarno said, “Why should Syngman Rhee attack us? Why should he attack me?”, indicating two nations had no reason to quarrel with each other. Senator Smith said he would be glad to pass this message on to President Rhee when he saw him.

I asked Sukarno whether he was satisfied with shape taken by his conception of guided democracy as finally worked out involving return to 1945 constitution. President replied with an emphatic affirmative. I observed that this came very close to the American strong President form of government. Sukarno nodded, indicating there were some differences. “Also,” he said, “I intend to appoint a Prime Minister”, indicating he did not desire to be bothered with details of government administration.

In connection with forthcoming trip President said details were in hands of Doctor Tamzil but he would probably depart Djakarta April 23 and was tentatively planning to stop either in San Francisco or Los Angeles for a few days.3 “Which would you recommend?,” he asked. I indicated I could not be in position of deciding between two such attractive cities and suggested he ought to stop in both. Nothing was said about [Page 360] physical examination and Sukarno, despite rigorous schedule of entertainment for Ho Chi Minh, looked fit, indeed better than when I last saw him on February 17.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.56D/3–1359. Secret. Repeated to Saigon, The Hague, Seoul, and CINCPAC.
  2. H. Alexander Smith (R.–New Jersey), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in Indonesia as part of a larger trip to Asia; documentation on his trip is ibid., 033.1100–SM.
  3. Ho Chi Minh, President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, was in Indonesia in early March for a brief visit.
  4. Sukarno was scheduled to undertake a 2-month tour of Asia, Europe, and Latin America between April 23 and June 27. In despatch 824 from Djakarta, April 28, the Embassy transmitted a copy of Sukarno’s itinerary, which included a stop in Los Angeles June 1–3 and a stop in Honolulu June 4–5. (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.11/4–2859)