39. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Malaysia 1

794. Djakarta’s 1920.2 Sukarno’s conditional acceptance Lopez formula could be significant step in breaking current impasse if all parties prepared follow it up. As we see situation, our immediate objectives are (a) to halt further Indo guerrilla buildup in East Malaysia and to start process of withdrawal, and (b) to provide forum for continuing tripartite talks to fill gap until Malaysian elections and, hopefully, to start preliminary discussion political settlement. Sukarno’s agreement seems offer hope of achieving both.

Most obvious hazards in next few days would seem include following: Actual wording of conditions attached to GOI acceptance could deviate so widely from that stated in reftel or could be couched in such offensive language as to preclude Malaysian acceptance. Even if wording follows that specified in reftel, Malaysians may still back off from position stated by Razak in Bangkok or insist on further clarification Indo position. Tunku might also yield to temptation and start crowing publicly about Malaysian victory. Or Lopez could decide cap his success by leaking whole story to press.

We would appreciate posts’ suggestions on how best exploit situation and avoid hazards. Not much can be done, of course, until we see what Thanat actually gets from GOI.

One problem to be faced if Indos accept formula is that of publicity. While desirable that Sukarno’s strict injunction against publicizing arrangement be observed, record for secrecy in past somewhat similar circumstances very poor. Formal public reference of some sort to effect discussions being resumed would probably be necessary to minimize press speculation when becomes known Ambassadors getting together in Bangkok. Difficult to see how Malaysians could agree to any publicity on talks, however, unless they could tell their people GOI had agreed [Page 79]start withdrawals. Might be possible resolve this problem if Thanat would make brief non-committal public statement along following lines after clearing it with all three principals: “As result diplomatic conversations carried on at second Bangkok meeting, Indos, Malaysians and Phils have agreed take certain measures to relieve tensions in area. Further exploratory talks between Ambassadors of the three countries in Bangkok will be taking place in coming weeks.” Would appreciate posts’ reactions.

Pending promised GOI message to Thanat, we believe it best not discuss Indo acceptance with anyone except Thanat, UK and Australians. British and Australian Embassies Washington given summary reftel today and will inform their governments we prefer no discussion with GOM or GOP until Indos act.

For Bangkok: Thanat should be given full summary Jones-Sukarno meeting soonest. Should briefly outline what we foresee in way hazards and stimulate his thinking on ways to make most of situation. FYI. One important objective is to keep him actively involved and forestall any tendency phase himself out. End FYI. Should point out that this development obviously supersedes current exchange between Lopez and GOM through RTG on question timing of withdrawals and summit (Bangkok’s 1575),3 and express hope he can keep this unprofitable exchange from jeopardizing chances of exploiting Indo acceptance Lopez formula.

For Kuala Lumpur and Manila: For time being you should limit selves to telling govts that Ambassador Jones making progress with GOI in terms Lopez formula, that we believe there good possibility of constructive GOI action soon, and that we suggest this be given chance to develop by few days of quiet.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Ingraham, cleared with Cuthell, and approved by Green. Also sent to Manila and Bangkok and repeated to Djakarta, London, Canberra, and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. In telegram 1920 from Djakarta, March 17, Jones reported that after a meeting with Subandrio and Sukarno, they agreed to accept the Lopez formula provided all parties agreed that Malaysia was prepared to commence high-level talks on a political settlement when actual disengagement began and would not be rigid on timing for withdrawals. For the time being Indonesia would continue ambassadorial talks with the same understanding on disengagement as would be applied to ministerial talks. Furthermore, there could be no publicity about the Lopez formula agreement. If the Lopez formula was made public, Indonesia would deny it had agreed to it. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated March 17. (Ibid.)