Learn about the beta
Office of the Historian

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

2426. Presidential Handling. Deptel 1297,1Embtel 2418, 2423.2 President Sukarno expressed great pleasure upon receipt of President Kennedy’s message. He read it carefully twice, nodded his head, said “good, good. I am very pleased about this.” Sukarno then referred to informal nature of visit, said this was fine, created warm, friendly atmosphere between 2 leaders at same time affording opportunity for discussion serious problems.

“International relations are human relations,” Sukarno said, repeating favorite expression of his. “Let me tell you in strictest confidence what happened last time I was in Washington.” He then repeated story of how President Eisenhower had kept him waiting in anteroom for 10 minutes, causing him great embarrassment before members of his party. (Embtel 2352)3

[Page 315]

Sukarno said he had “great expectations” of Kennedy’s administration with respect to understanding of Asia. “Let us deal with each other as friends,” Sukarno said. “For example, even if the visit is informal, it would make so much difference in feelings of my people if President Kennedy could come out to airport, welcome me as old friend, make me feel welcome. This is what happens in other countries.” There was more of same, emphasizing importance of warm, friendly, heart-to-heart relationship which means so much to Asians who are yearning to be genuinely treated as equals.

We then discussed timing of release of announcement, Sukarno saying “the sooner the better. Let us release it just as soon as possible. Today, if possible.” At same time indicated he wished meet President Kennedy’s convenience this respect. He then suggested noon today but when I pointed out problem of communication involved, he responded with “7 o’clock tomorrow morning, then, so that we may make 7 o’clock news broadcast here.” I told him I would communicate with Washington at once and advise him later today.

As for date of visit, Sukarno said he had not as yet made up his mind whether to proceed to Washington via Bangkok, Manila and California or whether to make European stops prior to Washington. He asked my advice. I replied I had no views on this but that we should appreciate knowing soon as convenient what his plans are.

President received me 7:30 am, his aide having telephoned late last night to change appointment from 9:45 at President’s request in order to give us more time. President greeted me warmly when I arrived at Merdeka Palace. I expressed appreciation for the kind message of sympathy which he had sent me through the Foreign Office in connection with damage to the Residence. He said he also hoped that Madame Sukarno whom Mrs. Jones saw yesterday had also conveyed how badly they felt. I responded Mrs. Jones had deeply appreciated the warm expression from Madame Sukarno.

President then said that these demonstrations which were worldwide resulted from bad image America projected in world. US must make “fundamental change in its attitude and actions on subject of colonialism.” Sukarno referred to Senator Morse’s statement on this subject which was featured on page 1 of newspapers here, emphasized Morse was absolutely right. Sukarno said he felt he knew American people and understood their feelings which had not been adequately represented by previous administration.

I told President my chief concern regarding incident was possible effect it would have on US-Indonesian relations as result of American reaction. Material damage was unimportant compared to this. President quickly assented, said nothing must interfere with our good relations.

[Page 316]

President then referred to President Kennedy’s book Strategy of Peace which he said he had read with very great interest. President Kennedy’s speeches are good, reveal clear understanding of important problems in world. Speeches one thing; administration another, Sukarno stressed. If President Kennedy implemented ideas contained in his speeches, all Asia would respond and entire atmosphere would be changed.

“The years the locusts have eaten”, Sukarno quoted. “One of things they have eaten is understanding between American and Asian-African countries who have felt Americans always on side of colonialism, opposing aspirations new nations.”

Jones
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 798.11/2–2361. Confidential; Priority.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 147.
  3. Telegrams 2418 and 2423, February 22 and 23, dealt with arrangements for Jones’ interview with Sukarno. (Department of State, Central Files, 798.11/2–2261 and 798.11/2–2361)
  4. See footnote 1, Document 147.