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

1175. With Malaysian elections out of way, next phase in efforts develop solution to Indo-Malaysia dispute presumably will involve maneuvers to convene early summit meeting. As Department understands picture, Sukarno is evincing increasing anxiety to firm up summit for early May, with Tokyo preferred site. Reasons his anxiety include desire start world tour culminating at World Fair, and probably his growing awareness things going badly for Indo in confrontation as well (burgeoning economic troubles, Tunku’s election triumph,2 growing impatience with Indo shown by various Afro-Asians at Bandung II preparatory conference, Sulawesi dissidence, failure guerrilla-sabotage campaign weaken Malaysia, growing estrangement from West and drying up foreign aid, etc.). Macapagal, increasingly disenchanted with Sukarno and anxious score diplomatic triumph to hush internal critics, also strongly favors early summit and appears believe some as yet undefined basis for agreement at summit exists.

Tunku’s attitude following unexpectedly decisive victory not yet clear. He may now regard his position as so strong he can afford meet Sukarno without fear repercussions at home. On other hand, confidence [Page 94]generated by victory plus fact he won it on hard anti-Indo platform may stiffen him against any accommodation with Sukarno.

We see number of risks in early summit, particularly in absence any real indications grounds for settlement exist (see separate telegram this subject). If any such grounds exist we inclined favor summit, since (a) as shown during Manila summit last summer, principals can display unexpected flexibility on occasion and (b) summit would at least provide conclusive test Sukarno intentions.

We do not, however, feel USG should play direct role in promoting summit, as Sukarno has requested we do (Djakarta’s 2225).3 Latter appears as transparent maneuver designed generate US pressure on Tunku for early summit, put us in position of committing our prestige to its success, and avoid loss face and tactical disadvantage Indos fear they would accrue if they showed selves overly eager for summit by promoting it directly. Rather than play this sort of game, we believe our role should be limited to encouraging principals themselves to take necessary initiative.

In Sukarno’s case, we think best tactic at this point would be to dispel any illusion that he can engineer summit painlessly by having us do work for him. This could bring him face to face with hard decision as to how much he prepared pay for summit, with world tour plans adding to his sense of urgency.

For Djakarta: Ambassador should see Sukarno, preferably in presence Subandrio, and draw on following points:

Department has considered his request USG explore possibility convening summit meeting and has decided we not in position do so. This decision based on number factors, including our continuing conviction Asians themselves must take initiative in solving their problems (as Sukarno himself constantly proclaims in public). We somewhat surprised, in fact, that Sukarno would ask us become involved in view prolonged GOI-encouraged anti-US campaign throughout Indo, in which alleged US interference Indo affairs has been constant theme.
If Sukarno truly interested in resuming negotiations, we urge him consider following: Major obstacle to progress in negotiations to date has been consistent Indo failure put forth concrete proposals or even make clear to others what they want. As one example, Subandrio April 7 offered provide Thanat with specific examples of what GOI meant by “pill-sweeteners” but to date we understand Thanat has received nothing. Same evasiveness and lack frankness apparent in Indo reaction to Lopez formula. If Sukarno now wishes determine [Page 95]Malaysian attitude to summit, he would lose nothing and gain respect by sounding out GOM openly, either through regularly established channel which both he and GOM have accepted, i.e., Thanat, or alternately through Macapagal.
Tunku, of course, is repeatedly on record that he will not attend summit while pistol pointed at head. Should not be unexpected if he now insists that guerrillas be out of Malaysia before agreeing to summit. Only way find out, however, is to make direct offer or inquiry.
Whatever Tunku’s decision in matter, we would not consider urging him show greater flexibility on guerrilla question. As Sukarno aware, we have consistently maintained that continued presence guerrillas on Malaysian soil not only inexcusable on legal-moral grounds but entirely contrary Indo’s own interests. So far these guerrillas have seriously tarnished Indo image before world; poisoned GOI friendship with US, Australia and other countries; cost Indo substantial foreign aid; helped Tunku win elections; and insured indefinite continuance British forces in area. Other side of ledger empty. As Sukarno should realize, Malaysia is stronger, not weaker, than before confrontation.
Assuming Sukarno will initiate new contacts with Malaysians, we hope he will be realistically aware of extent to which April 25 election has strengthened Tunku’s position. No question that Indo confrontation was great help to Tunku. He ran on strong anti-Indo platform and Malaysian electorate overwhelmingly endorsed him. Any Indo attempt to assert that victory resulted from British intimidation certain to fall flat before world and damage Indo credibility, since election carried out in full view world press and foreign diplomatic community Kuala Lumpur. Rather than attempting challenge or downgrade results, which would make Indo laughing-stock, we hope Sukarno will be able see it as potential watershed in Indo-Malaysia relations and make real effort forget past excesses and come to terms with country which, whether he likes it or not, will be his neighbor indefinitely.

For Manila: Ambassador should see Macapagal, summarize substance Ambassador Jones’ April 22 conversation with Sukarno (Djakarta’s 2225) except numbered paragraphs one and five, and briefly outline foregoing five-point reply we intend make to Sukarno request for US initiative in convening early summit. Should note that completion Malaysian elections, coupled with recent relatively calm on Borneo border and Sukarno’s desire for summit, suggests time approaching for new initiative to break Indo-Malaysian impasse. We know from Macapagal’s comments during SEATO meeting that he has been giving matter good deal of thought, and we would appreciate his current views on situation.

For Kuala Lumpur: Whether there will be summit or other meetings depends largely on willingness of Tunku to participate. As stated paragraph [Page 96]two above we have no clear picture of his post-election attitude and we therefore need your opinion this subject soonest. In talking to Tunku suggest at this stage you avoid specific suggestions but attempt convince him that he should regard his new political strength as giving him ability to negotiate on basis any reasonable suggestion which may be produced by Phils, Thais or others.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Ingraham, cleared by Cuthell, Green, and Buffum, and approved by William Bundy. Also sent to Kuala Lumpur and Manila and repeated to London, Canberra, Bangkok, CINCPAC, and USUN.
  2. In a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, April 27, Forrestal noted that the Tunku’s victory was a “landslide” and had elections been country-wide (i.e., including Singapore and Borneo) the Tunku would have had a clear majority. Forrestal hoped that the victory “will make the Tunku feel braver about meeting with Sukarno; but we do not intend to press for such a meeting ourselves.” Forrestal noted that Macapagal was trying to organize another summit. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Malaysia, Vol. II, Memos, 4/64–7/64)
  3. Dated April 22. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 MAPHILINDO)