284. Memorandum of Conversation0



New York, September 19–October 8, 1960


  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. James Bell
  • Indonesia
    • President Sukarno


  • US-Indonesian Relations; UN Matters

The Secretary called on Sukarno at 9:30 this morning. Sukarno opened the conversation by requesting a better understanding of Indonesia by the United States. When the Secretary told the President that he felt we were more sympathetic and understanding than the President realized, Sukarno immediately turned to the question of West New Guinea saying that we could best demonstrate our friendship for Indonesia by coming out directly on the Indonesian side in their dispute with the Netherlands. Sukarno said he consistently told the Indonesian people that Indonesia was very friendly toward the United States, but that they could not understand our position on this issue. The Secretary asked why Indonesia did not take the matter to the International Court of Justice and Sukarno replied that there was no question that West New Guinea was a part of the Netherlands Indies and that there was nothing to be adjudicated. He said that this was a matter of principle. The Secretary then pointed out that while we did not support Indonesia, neither do we support the Netherlands and that we were maintaining our policy of impartiality. He also referred to our desire to maintain friendship with both Indonesia and the Netherlands, particularly as the Netherlands was an ally. Sukarno said that we seem to tie NATO in with this issue, and that we should not—that we should have a real Asian policy, not complicated by NATO.

President Sukarno then asked the Secretary to please convey his regards to President Eisenhower. Sukarno recalled the visit of Vice President [Page 552] Nixon to Indonesia1 and said that he hoped the Secretary would also give his best regards to the Vice President.

Sukarno referred to a newspaper report that Kasavubu2 had refused to accept the Indonesian troops sent to the Congo.3 Secretary said that he understood Kasavubu had made such a declaration some days ago but had subsequently reversed himself.

The Secretary referred to the Five Power Resolution on a possible meeting between President Eisenhower and Khrushchev4 and informed President Sukarno that an amendment would be offered making the resolution more general in nature. President Sukarno asked if the amendment would be our answer to the resolution and the Secretary replied that it would represent our position on the matter. He then explained some of the reasons why the meeting would not be possible at this time under the present circumstances. He said that the personal attacks on the President did not deter him from meeting with Mr. Khrushchev and then repeated for Sukarno’s benefit some of the comments that Khrushchev had made about President Eisenhower. The Secretary pointed out that President Eisenhower could not undertake conversations which would commit a new administration particularly as a new President would be elected in about five weeks. Despite these circumstances the Secretary said that he had hoped he would hear from Gromyko but that he had not.

President Sukarno invited the Secretary to be his guest in Indonesia while he was in office or after his retirement. The Secretary said he appreciated the invitation and would certainly like to have an opportunity to see Indonesia, but was afraid that such a trip would not be possible.

The rest of the conversation was largely an exchange of pleasantries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by Bell on October 10 and approved by S the same day. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Astoria. Steeves briefed Herter for this meeting in a memorandum of October 1. (Ibid., FE Files: Lot 62 D 26, Indonesia 1960) See Supplement.
  2. Nixon visited Indonesia in October 1953 as part of a larger trip to the Far East and South Asia.
  3. Joseph Kasavubu, President of the Congo.
  4. Indonesian troops were being considered as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Congo; for related documentation, see vol. XIV, pp. 251 ff.
  5. On September 29 a draft resolution calling on Eisenhower and Khrushchev to meet was presented to the U.N. General Assembly by Sukarno, Nehru, Nasser, President Joseph Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. (U.N. doc. A/4522)