92. Memorandum of Conversation1

SecDel/MC/50

SECRETARY’S DELEGATION TO THE NINETEENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY New York, December 1964

SUBJECTS

  • President Sukarno’s Health
  • US-Indonesian Relations
  • Malaysia
  • New US Ambassador to Djakarta
[Page 196]

PARTICIPANTS

  • U.S.
  • The Secretary
  • Donald R. Toussaint, USUN
  • Indonesia
  • Deputy PriMin Subandrio
  • Ambassador Zairin Zain (Indonesian Ambassador to the United States)

President Sukarno’s Health

The Secretary began the meeting by asking about President Sukarno’s health. Deputy PriMin Subandrio said that an X-ray taken in Vienna some months ago had revealed there was a stone in President Sukarno’s right kidney. Inasmuch as his other kidney is already affected, Subandrio said, the X-ray had given rise to real concern. Subsequent examination, however, had shown that the second kidney stone was not serious. As a result, the concern over President Sukarno’s health had in general disappeared.

U.S.-Indonesian Relations

The Secretary broached the subject of U.S.-Indonesian relations by commenting that “we have been having difficulties lately.” The Secretary said he understood President Sukarno had expressed to Ambassador Jones regrets over the damage caused by demonstrations at USIS facilities in Djakarta and Surabaya recently and had promised the Indonesian Government would make adequate compensation for the damages. Although appreciating President Sukarno’s statement to Ambassador Jones, the Secretary continued, it must be recognized that the general effect of such incidents is most unfortunate, for they hamper efforts to improve U.S.-Indonesian relations. The U.S. feels very strongly, the Secretary said, that steps should be taken to prevent incidents of this nature in the future. Subandrio, in reply, laughingly but apparently seriously expressed the hope that Indonesian facilities in Washington would not receive “reciprocal treatment.”

When the Secretary asked what was uppermost in Subandrio’s mind concerning U.S.-Indonesian relations, Subandrio said it must be admitted that U.S.-Indonesian relations are indeed at a very low level. Nevertheless, he said, he had not lost hope they could be prevented from further deterioration; he felt there was a possibility they could even be improved. Subandrio then went on to note, however, that there is among the Indonesian public great pressure for terminating all U.S. information activities in Indonesia. Such a course, he said, was not favored by President Sukarno.

The Secretary replied in a general way that relations between any two countries tend to develop on a basis of reciprocity, that their improvement or deterioration depends on the actions of both sides.

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Malaysia

The Secretary broached the subject of Malaysia by commenting that the U.S. does not fully understand what Indonesia wishes to achieve in the dispute concerning Malaysia. Subandrio said that President Sukarno had already agreed to a formula for a solution in Tokyo. One advantage of the Tokyo formula is its “face saving” character—that is, it would permit a solution which stemmed not from Western pressure but, rather, from recommendations made by an Afro-Asian group. The Indonesian Government, Subandrio said, still stands by its adherence to the formula worked out in Tokyo.

Subandrio said he believes there is still a possibility for a solution of the Malaysian dispute, although he admitted he saw no prospect of an immediate solution. He commented that the political climate was more favorable now than it was six months ago, suggesting that the new UK Government might be “less inhibited” from finding a solution than the previous UK Government. He said he still wishes to undertake talks with the new British Foreign Minister, Patrick Gordon Walker, and indicated the possibility of such talks was one reason for his present trip.2

The Secretary said it was his impression that the atmosphere in London is now “somewhat different.” He went on to emphasize, however, that both the British and the Malaysians feel it is impossible for the political process of negotiations to begin functioning as long as Indonesian raids and incursions against Malaysian territory continue. The Secretary then asked for Subandrio’s views as to the chances for a period of quiet during which such raids and incursions would cease. Subandrio replied, somewhat evasively, that such a period of quiet would be possible if there were indications that all sides are willing to find a solution and if all sides proved willing to tone down their provocations. In this respect, Subandrio specifically referred to broadcasts beamed to Indonesia by Radio Malaysia.

After a brief discussion of the economic situation in Indonesia (see Part III), the Secretary said he could see no reason for not arriving at a quick, peaceful solution of the dispute. The U.S., he said, wants such a solution, for if confrontation were to grow into a serious armed clash, the result could not but be costly and unfortunate for all concerned. At this stage, the Secretary said, the most important thing is the future of Indonesian raids and incursions. He went on to express the hope that some informal way could be found to terminate such incidents. In this way, it [Page 198]might be possible to bring into operation the political process of negotiations, such as the four-nation Afro-Asian group agreed to in Tokyo. The Secretary went on to say that the U.S. does not like to envisage the prospect of the chain reaction which could develop from the fact that Malaysia has allies which, in turn, are allied to the U.S.

The Secretary asked Subandrio what he envisaged as the next step toward a solution of the dispute, and specifically, whether there is any other nation, such as Thailand or Japan, which could be of real assistance in finding a solution. Subandrio replied that any steps toward a solution must use the Tokyo agreement as a basis. He then suggested that it is now up to the UK to take some initiative. In his view, Subandrio stated, there are no insurmountable obstacles to a solution. He went on to emphasize that President Sukarno has been “very easy” in the past and would continue to be so in the future provided the proper “psychological atmosphere” can be created.

When the Secretary asked whether the Indonesians had had any serious contact with the Malaysian Government, or whether Subandrio planned to talk with the British Permanent Representative, Lord Caradon, in New York, Subandrio replied in the negative. He said there had been private discussions with Singapore businessmen concerning possible solutions of the Malaysian problem, but that there had been no official contacts with the Malaysian Government.

New U.S. Ambassador

When escorting Subandrio to the elevator, the Secretary noted that Ambassador Jones had resigned at his own request, entirely for personal reasons. The Secretary went on to say that he hoped we would soon be able to give the Indonesian Government definite news of Ambassador Jones’ successor.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 INDON. Confidential. Drafted by Toussaint and approved in S on January 7. This was Part I of III. The other memoranda of conversation, which were attached, were about UN financing and peacekeeping and Indonesia’s economy.
  2. In telegram Secto 34 to London, December 11, Rusk summarized this portion of his talk with Subandrio for Ambassador Bruce. Rusk stated that he thought Gordon Walker would wish to know that Subandrio was making himself available in Europe and would be interested in talking with Gordon Walker. (Ibid., POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA)