145. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • West New Guinea


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador J. H. van Roijen, Netherlands Embassy
  • Mr. E. L. C. Schiff, Minister, Netherlands Embassy
  • Mr. Robert H. McBride, WE

Ambassador van Roijen reviewed briefly the Dutch position on West New Guinea. He said that the key point of the Dutch policy was the preparation of the Papuans for self-determination. He noted that the council which had been created in Hollandia was proving successful and that the Indonesians wished to frustrate political developments of this type in West New Guinea. Ambassador van Roijen referred to the Nasution Mission to Moscow to procure arms for “anti-colonial” purposes, presumably for strengthening Indonesian claims against West New Guinea.1 Ambassador van Roijen said that the Dutch were willing to submit their policy to scrutiny by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and were willing to have U.N. observers sent to West New Guinea. Furthermore, the Dutch were ready at any time to submit the sovereignty issue to the International Court of Justice. He said that the Dutch were open to all ideas and indeed had suggested that the Secretary-General send an observer to inspect the situation and see for himself that there was no Dutch military build-up in New Guinea. Furthermore, the Dutch were anxious to have representatives of the international press visit the area for the same purposes. Indonesian allegations regarding Dutch aggressive intentions were false, he said.

The Secretary inquired with regard to Indonesian infiltration into West New Guinea. Ambassador van Roijen said that these had so far consisted [Page 309]of small groups of no more than 20 men who had usually been rounded up relatively quickly. He thought the purpose of the infiltrations to date was to provide propaganda for the Indonesians. He said that some of these were Indonesians while others were Papuans. Some had been identified as coming from regular Indonesian military units. The Secretary inquired if the Dutch had evidence of an Indonesian military build-up. Ambassador van Roijen replied in the affirmative and said that the Dutch particularly feared attacks against certain islands close to New Guinea. He said that the differentiation between New Guinea and Indonesian territory was clear on maps which had been accepted at the round table discussions. Therefore, he thought there was no problem with regard to sovereignty

In response to a further query from the Secretary, Ambassador van Roijen said that the problem had been discussed in the U.N. three times and that no resolution on the issue had ever received a two-thirds vote. Although it was in the U.N. deepfreeze at the present time, West New Guinea remained on the agenda technically and of course could be brought up by the Indonesians at any time. The Secretary inquired as to when the last Dutch-Indonesian bilateral talks had been held. Ambassador van Roijen said that there had been talks in 1955 and that the original discussions, of course, had been held in 1950–1951.

Ambassador van Roijen said the Dutch believe that a real effort should be made to deter any Indonesian aggressive actions. He said that the Dutch agreed with us that Indonesia should be kept out of the Soviet orbit. The Secretary noted that Indonesia was not particularly subject to advice and that it was relatively easy for the Soviets to give satisfaction to many of their desires. Finally, on this subject the Secretary inquired as to the existence of any Papuan political thought. Ambassador van Roijen said that insofar as any informed opinion existed among the Papuans, it was anti-Indonesian since, in their view, annexation by Indonesia would be simply merely to trade one colonialism for another.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/1–3161. Confidential. Drafted by McBride and cleared in S on February 12.
  2. Defense Minister General Nasution headed a high-level Indonesian delegation to Moscow January 2–6. Included in the delegation were Foreign Minister Subandrio and Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshal Suryadarma. The Indonesians signed an agreement on January 6 to purchase weapons, and announced that their purchases were in response to the military buildup by the Dutch in West New Guinea. At a later press conference on January 16, Nasution announced that Indonesia was purchasing bombers, fighters, torpedo boats, and submarines from the Soviet Union. For documentation, see ibid., 033.9861. On March 22, Nasution asked Jones to inform Rusk that the trip to Moscow “involved no change of GOI policy either external or internal.” (Telegram 2716 from Djakarta, March 22; ibid., 033.9861/3–2261)