23. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State 1

1510. From Atty General. Embtel 1502.2 Following summarizes Atty Gen’s (AG) talks with Sukarno (First Dep PM/FonMin Subandrio, Second Dep PM Leimena, Third Dep PM Chairul Saleh, Dep FonMin [Page 46] Suwito, Army C/S Gen Jani, Min Defense Gen Nasution also present) evening Jan 23:


At Sukarno’s invitation AG outlined results discussions in Manila and KL, stating that procedures discussed in Tokyo were acceptable in both capitals. He said both Macapagal and Tunku believed situation was deteriorating in way which involved threat to entire area and that they were interested in peaceful, Asian solution. AG had told Tunku that if the tripartite meeting was arranged Sukarno would put out statement ordering cessation hostilities and that organized military activities would take day or so to halt while guerrilla activities would take perhaps seven days (Sukarno interjected “at least”) to control.

AG said he had talked about dates and calculated that assuming week required to call off military confrontation, i.e., military activities would cease around end of January, ministerial meeting could take place in Bangkok Feb 5–6. AG said the arrangements for this meeting would be up to Thanat Khoman who it was understood was acceptable to all three parties to dispute. AG would go to Bangkok to fill him [in] personally over dinner Thursday night, Jan 24; after that go to London.

AG discussed designation of observer-investigator mentioning that there was some reluctance on part both Phils and Malaysians to accept Japanese but that Thai acceptable to both. AG said Malaysians would like UNSYG to name Thais. Sukarno worried this matter two or three times with questions but in end accepted proposal.
AG mentioned Manila’s thought that political confrontation should also cease and discussed desirability of stopping controversial radio broadcasts. Both Sukarno and Subandrio indicated they were interested in this aspect and agreed to stop anti-Malaysian radio broadcasts and knock off political confrontation if other side would do same.
AG concluded this part presentation by stating that as result his talks with all three parties he convinced that each interested in peaceful settlement, that Malaysians and Phils both feel situation deteriorating and that in his judgment all parties willing to enter talks in good faith. He said he had left Jim Bell in KL and that if reports from him there and from Ambs in other countries involved should indicate any change in necessary atmosphere of good faith, he would tell this to Sukarno.
Sukarno questioned AG closely whether Tunku would come into conference as “Prime Minister of Malaysia.” Sukarno’s first reaction was that it would be impossible for him to meet with Tunku as Prime Minister of Malaysia. AG explained that he had discussed this issue with Tunku and had stressed to him that recognition could not be pre-condition of Sukarno, and that each side could hold its own standpoint on this matter, i.e., Tunku could come as PM of Malaysia and Sukarno could meet with him, regarding Tunku in any way he wanted. AG also [Page 47]stressed that issue should be minimized by both sides and not allowed to ruin chance for talks. Sukarno finally accepted. (Indos were perhaps somewhat persuaded by fact, which was spelled out to them, that US reps regularly talk to ChiCom reps without involving recognition question.)

Sukarno and Subandrio, with some assistance from Gen Jani, made strong attempt revise talks in Tokyo to provide for withdrawal of troops along border in Kalimantan by both Indos and British. They pressed hard on necessity British issuing cease fire order at same time they would do so. “I can only give order to my troops to cease fire if British give order to theirs,” Sukarno said. There was extended argument about this in which AG made clear that he regarded Indos major offenders in this matter and it was hardly possible to ask Malaysians or British to announce cease fire. It was Indos who were making most of incursions although there might have been few incidents by other side. It was Indos who were out to crush Malaysia not vice versa. AG said he would not be party to equating Indo military activities with those defensive activities by other side.

Sukarno argued that in Tokyo “two times I said ’both sides.’” Amb Zain interjected unhelpfully “We Indonesians all understood there would be cease fire on both sides.” Gen Jani, too, said he had understood that if Indonesia withdrew their troops British would also withdraw theirs. AG said withdrawal of troops was impractical and was not what had been agreed in Tokyo. Jani said there were two groups of fighters: regulars and “Kalimantan freedom fighters.” He said latter would cooperate only if they thought that what Indo did would benefit them. If British did not cease mopping up activities against them they would defend themselves. AG repeatedly reminded Sukarno it was Malaysians not British who required make commitments on military activities in Malaysia.

AG said arrangement would not be ideal but there was no alternative. He said he would do what he could and that US Ambassadors in capitals concerned would also do what they could do to help keep incidents from getting out of hand. Main thing was to get talks going. Surely guerrillas could protect themselves for few weeks. If there were incidents they could be investigated. AG had proceeded to other capitals on basis Sukarno’s commitment to him in Tokyo that he would issue cease fire order to Indo troops. Without that there could be no talks.
After extended argument on this point, Sukarno switched discussion to his problem of selling cease fire to Indo people. Sukarno asked AG whether he would ask British “Are you willing silently or otherwise to order cease fire”? AG said he had already asked this of Malaysians and that their answer was affirmative. AG again stressed [Page 48]that it was Indo military activity which was causing trouble and which had to be stopped before talks could proceed. AG said it was clear to him that Malaysians and those in support of them would welcome Indo cease fire.
Sukarno and others finally abandoned their attempts alter Tokyo agreement. Sukarno and Subandrio pressed AG earnestly, however, for general statement AP press conference scheduled noon Jan 23 that parties concerned all agreed on desirability of talks and necessity cessation military activities to provide period of calm that would make talks possible. AG agreed try to make some general statement to this effect stressing however that he wished to save most of this for announcement he would make in Bangkok. (See operative para AG’s statement to press Jan 24—reftel.)
Sukarno agreed ministers meeting should be held Bangkok but insisted that venue for summit be decided at ministers meeting and not beforehand. Sukarno indicated he had promised Japanese that summit might be held Tokyo but assured us there would be no shift to Phnom Penh.
Min Chairul Saleh asked whether AG would talk with British about causes of tensions between them and Indonesians. He referred particularly to British impounding C–130 spare parts in HK. AG agreed consider discussing with British any thoughts on Indo-British relationship which Indos could give him in memo form but promised nothing. Saleh indicated he would provide AG with memo on HK situation prior AG’s departure. Later, after dinner, Subandrio raised this matter with AG again stressing difficulties GOI having with labor because of HK situation. Subandrio was particularly insistent that engines for C–130s which Indos had acquired from Lockheed had been “confiscated” by British.

Comment: Sukarno is frequently different man in Djakarta where he is subject to and conscious of domestic political pressures than he is outside Indonesia. This fits AG’s impression on this occasion. At times during this talk it was almost as if agreement reached Tokyo didn’t exist. However, Sukarno (with some help from Subandrio) came around at end and agreed to stand by Tokyo agreement. This was obviously difficult for him in face situation here. In AG’s and my judgment situation is most delicate one which will require utmost in effort and coordination to hold. Repeated Indo reference during these talks to British “divide and rule” tactics and to Tunku’s alleged inclination exploit any concessions by GOI for domestic political purposes were two striking examples depth Indo suspicions. Nevertheless, AG secured Sukarno’s agreement to give cease fire order and to otherwise proceed on basis agreement reached Tokyo. I think Sukarno wants to resolve this matter although whether his terms for substantive settlement [Page 49]would be acceptable to other side remains, of course, to be seen. Sukarno’s announcement of cease fire order to press as he stood beside AG and his favorable reference to AG’s efforts (see separate report on press conf)3 would appear to underline impetus AG’s talks here have given possibility negotiated settlement.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Received at 6:25 a.m. and repeated to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Tokyo, and CINCPAC for POLAD. Copies were passed to the White House and CIA.
  2. In telegram 1502 from Djakarta, January 22, Kennedy reported from Djakarta that Sukarno was not prepared to call a cease-fire unless the United States convinced the Malaysians to state they were ceasing hostilities. Kennedy stated he would not associate himself with any move which equated Malaysian military moves with Indonesia guerrillas and troops in Malaysia. Kennedy agreed to issue a general statement that all sides agreed that talks were desirable and a cessation of hostilities was required to provide the necessary calm. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 516 from Djakarta, January 23. (Ibid.)