250. Memorandum of Conversation Between President Johnson and Minister of Foreign Affairs Malik 1

The Foreign Minister said that President Suharto had instructed him to express his regrets that he could not come.

President Johnson responded that he was sorry that President Suharto had not seen fit to come. The opportunity to see President Suharto and Prime Minister Sato was a primary reason for going to Australia. As for the letter from President Suharto,2 which Foreign Minister Malik then handed to President Johnson, we wish to be as encouraging as we can with respect to assisting Indonesia, but they must bear in mind that our future aid level, as granted by Congress, is very low and we expect the Indonesians, like India, will learn to use wheat. We are short of rice. We shall increase the rice acreage by 20 or [Page 539]30% but we could send wheat right now. President Johnson believes the Indonesians will like wheat when they get used to it. Malik said President Suharto had switched rice cover food ration from 100% rice to 40% rice and 60% bulgar wheat. The increase in bulgar wheat consumption in Indonesia was outstripping U.S. availabilities.

President Johnson asked Indonesia to calculate its potential bulgar wheat requirements over the next 12 months and let us know.

President Johnson then returned to the problem with the AID appropriation which had been cut one third. He would have to cut others for the U.S. to fulfill its commitment to provide one third of the multilateral assistance package for Indonesia. That is why he had wanted very much to talk with President Suharto and Prime Minister Sato. In the meanwhile, Indonesia should be a good international salesman for its cause in Japan and elsewhere. It can count on the U.S. to provide one third of the aid but no more; the only flexibility beyond that would lie in increased wheat consumption in Indonesia; and at least 50% of our aid to be taken in form of PL 480.

The President reminded Malik again, as the conversation ended, to let us know about the possibility of absorbing more wheat.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files, 1966–1972: Lot 68 D 453, CF 253. Secret. Drafted by Rostow. The President was in Australia to attend the memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt who disappeared while swimming at sea on December 17.
  2. Not further identified.