90. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Green) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Conclusions Emerging from my talks with Mr. Peck, Undersecretary for Far Eastern Affairs, at the UK Foreign Office, November 27, 1964

During the course of an hour’s talk with Mr. Peck November 27 in his office regarding the Indo-Malaysian confrontation, I drew generously on points developed in Mr. Cuthell’s memo to me of November 25 and his talking points of November 232 for your conversations with Australian Foreign Minister Hasluck. In essence, I suggested that there was merit in the UK entering into discussions with the GOI as soon as appropriate looking to negotiations over the Malaysian issue. Set out below are my conclusions as to the British position on this issue, based on my talks with Peck.

There is no prospect that the UK will be willing or politically able to agree to resume talks with the GOI as long as Indonesia continues to introduce new troops into the conflict. (This confirms views expressed in Deptel 502 to Djakarta).3 Several factors bear on British thinking:
There is at present no real evidence of Sukarno’s willingness to call off the confrontation.
The UK believes that Sukarno is just beginning to feel the pinch of a more resolute UK and US posture. Let him really feel the squeeze, together with the costs and risks involved, and maybe (but only maybe) he will then be genuinely inclined to negotiate on acceptable terms.
Meanwhile, the UK does not feel it prohibitively expensive to resist the Indonesian confrontation. Besides, the situation in Kalimantan is unlikely to escalate and the Malaysian mainland incursions are so ineffective as to contribute to the GOM’s rising self-confidence. The GOI is likely to suffer more from the confrontation than the UK/GOM.
The UK feels that any talks on the confrontation issue should be principally between the GOI and GOM and that the UK should not play into the hands of Sukarno who is trying to create the impression that Indonesia’s opponent in this confrontation is a non-Asian ex- colonial [Page 193]state. Furthermore, the UK recognizes GOM sensitivities over any hint of a GOI-UK deal behind Malaysia’s back.
While the UK is not disposed to take any initiative at this stage with regard to talks or negotiations, it will keep lines of communication open and give due attention to overtures from the GOI side. Peck considers that the appropriate channel of communication is in Djakarta and he questions the reliability of feelers elsewhere and the utility of trying to conduct talks elsewhere (such as in Bangkok, as suggested in London’s 2553 to the Department).4
Peck did not say so, but I gained the impression that if a month were to go by without any new landings on the Malaysian mainland or without any increase in the scale of Kalimantan incursions, there might be a basis for starting down the road of talks and negotiations. I believe that, to have any real chance of success, such a lifting of the intensity of the confrontation would have to be decided and acted upon quietly and unilaterally by the GOI. Its completed performance might set the stage. However, there is no guarantee that even then the USG and GOM would be willing to move to negotiations.
Peck seemed skeptical re the thesis (developed in Djakarta’s 962 to the Department)5 that negotiations are now an urgent necessity in view of the danger that the PKI-Subandrio group would try to stir up the confrontation in order to submerge the nascent “Sukarnoist” movement in a wave of nationalistic frenzy. He did not argue against the possibility of this happening but he was deeply suspicious of Saleh and perhaps others among the Sukarnoists. Moreover, he saw no basis on which now to open negotiations with the GOI. Both the UK and GOM could not and would not concede on basic principles.


I see no point and considerable hazard in pushing the British on this issue—at least at this time. It is up to the Indonesians to take some tangible move to create the atmosphere and confidence necessary for beginning talks looking to negotiations. To enter into such talks prematurely is almost certain to lead to developments which tend to inflame rather than tranquilize the situation. Even to appear at this juncture to be too eager to start negotiations runs the clear risk of being misread by Sukarno.

This is not a question of our deferring to the British position in Malaysia in return for their understanding and support of our positions in Laos and Viet-Nam. It is a question of doing what is best in pursuing [Page 194]our own interests in Indo-Malaysia. It so happens that the UK and US interests there and in Southeast Asia generally are the same.

Obviously there is great advantage in quiet coordinated US and UK policies in the confrontation issue. The time may arise over the next few months when we believe the British should press forward with talks looking to negotiations, but when the British will be reluctant to do so. If meanwhile we develop the closest rapport with the British on this issue, showing understanding and forbearance, then our chances of influencing the British position when the time is ripe will be enhanced.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret. Copies were sent to Rostow, Jorden, and Cuthell. A note on the memorandum indicates that Bundy saw it.
  2. Neither found.
  3. See footnote 6, Document 88.
  4. Dated November 25. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 INDON–UK)
  5. Document 88.