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

1749. Deptels 1088,1 1073,2 1075,3 1086.4 After careful perusal of Pres Kennedy’s letter which I presented to him this morning, Pres Sukarno nodded vigorously and said “yes” he would send delegation back to Washington but before he did so he must have US assurance that Dutch would in fact be willing to transfer admin over WNG to Indo as opposed to discussion of whether they would do so. He said further that the sooner formal negots under U Thant could be started, the better. He did not rule out further secret talks but gave impression he was desirous of moving immediately into formal negots—“tomorrow”, he said, if possible.

As I had expected, discussion this morning focussed primarily on negative reply of van Roijen to question asked him twice by Malik and [Page 569] Deptel 1088 was most helpful in enabling me to give Sukarno some indication of Department’s thinking on this point.

President had been thoroughly briefed by Subandrio on points in Deptel 1073; nevertheless, I reviewed with him basic elements stressing particularly importance of avoiding provocative statements and actions at this stage and desirability of coming as close to a military moratorium as possible in this highly explosive atmosphere.

For first time, Pres neither resented nor took issue with my comments but instead indicated his understanding of delicate point that had been reached and importance of exercising restraint.

When Pres asked for US assurance, I countered that he would have to understand, as we had previously explained, great difficulty of one govt giving assurance of this kind affecting actions of another govt. Pres thought if we exerted some pressure on Dutch that this would be possible. I retorted that as he knew, there was point beyond which pressure became counterproductive. Nevertheless, I said I would present his request to Washington, although I could not be optimistic that my govt would assume this responsibility.

I pointed out that Dutch view was that commitment to this effect gave away their whole position by predetermining result of negot in advance. My own view of Dutch attitude was that they were not unwilling to discuss ways and means of transfer of admin over WNG to Indo but were unwilling to commit themselves in advance to such transfer.

Sukarno replied simply that Indo would not go into any negot which involved discussion of “whether” WNG should be transferred to Indo but only question of “how”. He said he was not asking Dutch to give away their position—negots would still have to be held on terms pending transfer. He made much of van Roijen’s statement that Papuans would have to be consulted before Dutch could commit themselves on transfer of admin over WNG to Indo. He said that if this were meant as internal consultation between Papuans and Dutch, this was none of his business but that if Dutch were asking Indos to agree to Papuan veto over such transfer before it took place, GOI obviously could not agree since it regarded WNG as a part of its territory.

In expressing appreciation for President Kennedy’s letter, Sukarno noted with interest statement that “Amb Bunker will shortly be sending you and the Dutch some further suggestions.” He said he had not yet received these and would look forward to their receipt.

When I stressed that positions of both sides were now so close that I personally was confident that negots would have successful outcome, President leaned over and said, “are you sure?” He then went on to say he wanted America to get credit for settling the WNG dispute; that this would mean much not only to our relations but was in interest of entire area.

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Sukarno was in good mood but seemed to have genuine doubt that Dutch were in fact ready to negotiate on basis acceptable to Indo. He asked me what I knew about split in Dutch Cabinet, where I thought Luns now stood. I drew upon Deptel 1075 expressing view that I thought Luns was much more moderate in his view than he had been and that I believed his talks with Attorney-General Kennedy and subsequent talks in Washington had resulted in much more flexible attitude. At this point, I took occasion to refer to function of diplomacy and said that although I did not know Luns personally, I assumed his competence as diplomat would enable him to make necessary adjustments to new situation. This was part of job of FonMin as well as Amb. Sukarno seemed quite interested and did not argue point.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/3–3062. Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated priority to The Hague and USUN.
  2. In telegram 1088, March 29, the Department authorized Jones to tell Sukarno that “patient continuation of negotiations” would produce a satisfactory conclusion. The Department did not believe that van Roijen meant to imply that the Netherlands refused to discuss arrangements which would result in ultimate transfer to Indonesia. (Ibid., 656.9813/3–2962)
  3. Document 251.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 252.
  5. See footnote 3, Document 252.