349. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • United States
    • The Secretary of State1
    • Ambassador Bruce
    • Mr. Tyler
    • Mr. Manning
    • Minister Jones
    • Mr. Lampson
  • United Kingdom
    • Foreign Secretary Butler
    • Colonial and Commonwealth Secretary Sandys
    • Sir Harold Caccia
    • Sir Patrick Reilly
    • Sir Geoffrey Harrison
    • Mr. Henderson
    • Sir Bernard Burrows
    • Mr. Cheetham
    • Mr. Crawford
    • Mr. Peck
    • Mr. Hadow


  • Indonesia/Malaysia

Butler said that the chief British anxiety about Indonesia was the need for a common front. The British were faced with a direct confrontation with the Indonesians about Malaysia. This was not generally understood. He had found German President Luebke incredibly naive and full of praise for Sukarno. Even Schroeder was not deeply interested in the question and wished to put off talks until later.

Rusk said there was no doubt about US solidarity with the British in the face of attacks against Malaysia by the Indonesians. We had informed the Australians that we recognize that if the Australians are attacked while they are helping to defend Malaysia, this would fall within the scope of the ANZUS Pact and we would fulfill our obligations under the Pact. However, we consider our role in Malaysia a secondary one. We prefer to play a supporting role, because of the primary responsibilities which we carry in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We have stopped sending arms and ammunition to Indonesia but are reluctant to stop the supplying of spare parts. We likely would lose all influence with the Indonesian Government if we cut off all supplies. However, the next [Page 763] installment of the spare parts program will begin in February and before authorizing its continuation we will examine it very carefully. Rusk also recommended the fullest exchange of intelligence information on Malaysia and Indonesia. Another important question was how to surface the issue so that Indonesian subversive and aggressive actions would be brought to world attention. Was it advisable to bring the question into the UN? This question should be studied. We had conducted a training program in the hope that our influence could be strengthened within the Indonesian army. But Rusk recognized there were special problems about training in guerilla warfare techniques. We would reexamine this question. However, it must be taken into consideration that the complete loss of any Western influence in Djakarta might increase the scale of the “confrontation”. We did not intend to interrupt the shipment of food to Indonesia.

Mr. Duncan Sandys said that it was vitally important to apply all possible types of pressure to Sukarno to bring him to his senses. The British were worried about the scale of Indonesian training of guerilla fighters. The British were satisfied they had sufficient forces to preserve the general military situation in Malaysia but guerillas caused great difficulties. It was a terrain of heavy forests almost vertical in contour. A few guerillas could immobilize a considerable number of troops. This did not constitute a serious military threat but the successes of the guerillas greatly encouraged the Chinese organizations in Malaysia. He did not see how the UK could stand by and watch Indonesians being trained a few miles from the frontier. This action was becoming more and more provocative. [2 lines of source text not declassified]

Rusk said that he had impressed upon Foreign Minister Nasution that Indonesia was highly vulnerable. If they resorted to armed action they would find themselves with almost impossible defense problems. They had more than three thousand islands to protect. He asked whether the British thought that some deterrent advantage might be derived by making it clear that the West would deny Indonesia any support or haven if it invaded Malaysia.

Butler confirmed that the British had cancelled radar facilities in Indonesia. This was reported in the House of Commons on December 17. (See London’s 2837 of December 18.)2

Butler and Rusk agreed to keep in touch on the Indonesian/Malaysian problem.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 INDON-MALAYSIA. Secret. Drafted by E. T. Lampson and approved in S on January 3, 1964. The meeting was held in the Foreign Office. The source text is labeled “Part I of XIII.”
  2. Rusk was in London for discussions after the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Paris December 16–17.
  3. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, POL INDON-UK)