279. Memorandum of Conversation0



New York, September 19–24, 1960


  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • Amb. Philip Young
    • Foy D. Kohler
  • Netherlands
    • Mr. Joseph Luns, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands,
    • Mr. C.W.A. Schurmann, Netherlands Ambassador to the U.N.


  • Foreign Minister Luns’ call on the Secretary

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

Mr. Luns then brought up the subject of West New Guinea. He emphasized that the Netherlands had always been ready to accept a UN trusteeship for West New Guinea under which the UN could supervise the sincerity of the Dutch in carrying out their pledge to prepare the territory for self determination. Speaking of Dutch-Indonesian relations, he said that Sukarno now had nothing left with which to hit the Dutch—the round table agreements had been repudiated, all Dutch property had been seized, Dutch citizens had been thrown out, no Dutch planes or ships were allowed to touch Indonesia, there are no diplomatic relations. He wanted to stress, and he had stressed in his talk with Assistant Secretary Parsons,1 that despite some difference between us on the evaluation of intelligence, there still remained a real danger of Indonesian aggression. It was not inconceivable, for example, that the Indonesians could fake an attack and attribute it to the Dutch, allege that there was an uprising in West New Guinea and claim that Indonesia was going to aid this uprising, possibly with “volunteers.” The question was—what would we do then in the event of direct or indirect aggression. Going to the UN was not a policy but rather a long procedure. The US should decide concretely what it would do in such a case. In reply to a [Page 541] question from the Secretary, Mr. Luns said that he was going to stay in New York until after Sukarno’s arrival and speech in the general debate and that he would speak after that before returning to The Hague. Continuing, he said that he had talked with the Secretary General of the UN who believes that it would be impossible to get any UN action in advance of actual aggression since the Dutch would not be able to prove a military danger. The Secretary General had also agreed that if the Dutch should come to the UN for a UN observer, there was a possibility that some of the Afro-Asian nations would bring up proposals which would result in an invitation to the Dutch to get out. Mr. Luns then raised the question as to whether Sukarno would be seeing President Eisenhower and suggested that in that event the President could perhaps say something in the nature of a warning.

In reply the Secretary said that the President had decided to see Chiefs of State and Heads of Government in New York but to receive no Foreign Ministers. Mr. Luns then referred to the President’s reception of Lord Home,2 which the Secretary explained as being due to the fact that Lord Home was new and that the British had particularly desired that he have a chance to meet the President without engaging in substantive discussion.

Reverting to the New Guinea question, Mr. Luns acknowledged the U.S. political deterrent had so far been effective but stressed that he was raising the question of a military decision. Obviously, the Netherlands was not going to fight a Pacific war alone. It was clear that the Indonesians now had sufficient troops, matériel and transport to enable them to move in on West New Guinea overnight and be established there the next day as a fait d’accompli. He said that when the Netherlands had announced that they were sending one battalion to reinforce West New Guinea, Sukarno had raged to. Subandrio that the Dutch must have got hold of Indonesian plans, probably through the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. Subandrio had denied this possibility, saying that the Ministry’s only copy was in his own safe. Mr. Luns said that he had talked about this question with Gates3 and Allen Dulles. He pled for a U.S. decision and action to get the Indonesians to lay off any aggression. In this [Page 542] connection, he reiterated that the Netherlands would be prepared to accept a representative of the UN Secretary General or anything of the kind.

There ensued some discussion as to the date of Sukarno’s arrival in New York. The Secretary had thought he would arrive on October 7 but the Dutch thought Monday, September 26 (later inquiry at the Department indicated an arrival date of September 28). Mr. Luns then reiterated that his Government thought it important that he see the President briefly. Amb. Young supported Mr. Luns in this connection, citing the importance of the Dutch role in connection with the DeGaulle proposals4 and the fact that under the Dutch governmental system the Foreign Minister was in all respects, as regards the handling of foreign relations, independent of the Dutch Prime Minister. Mr. Luns emphasized that he would be able to see the President very privately and the matter would be kept entirely secret as it had on a similar call a few years ago. The Secretary made no commitment.

Prior to Mr. Luns’ departure, the Secretary said he wanted to express the very sincere gratitude the U.S. feels for the unfailing support which the Dutch have always given us, despite a few unfortunate difficulties in our relationship, both in NATO and in the UN.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Approved by Herter on October 6. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Towers.
  2. Not printed. (Memorandum of conversation, September 15; ibid., Central Files, 798.00/9–1560) See Supplement.
  3. British Foreign Secretary.
  4. Luns met with Secretary of Defense Gates on September 19 concerning primarily NATO and defense matters. At the conclusion of the meeting Luns “stated that he had one more personal request. He said that the Dutch had some feeling that the Indonesians might attack Dutch New Guinea. He asked that the Secretary personally look into the matter. He thought that the U.S. should reaffirm to Indonesia its general opposition to the use of force to solve issues between nations and its specific opposition to the use of force by Indonesia against New Guinea. There was an inference that if Indonesia attacked New Guinea, the U.S. should assist the Netherlands at least logistically.” (Memorandum of conversation, September 30; Department of State, Central Files, 033.5611/9–1960)
  5. Reference is to French President Charles de Gaulle’s proposals for closer European cooperation within the framework of his Council of Nations.