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

1120. Embtel 1119.2 Malaysia-Indonesia Dispute (Part II).


For almost two months we have been holding back, hoping for fruitful results from anticipated direct discussions between UK and GOI, but combination of British reluctance and tentative nature Indo overtures has resulted in exactly nothing thus far. It seems to me that further delay simply plays into hands of those elements in Indonesia who do not want a solution to this dispute and increases danger escalation. Problem then is how to get Sukarno to call off his dogs.

In Embtel 646 we suggested a scenario for dealing with composition of the 4-power commission which has received general Dept approval in principle and endorsement of Embassies Manila and Kuala Lumpur but no steps have as yet been taken to implement it.3 In order to bridge essential first stage of placing parties in contact and halting Indo hostilities, I have another suggestion which may be worth a trial. I would suggest we put this into effect immediately if any talks which may be held between HMG officials and Subandrio during latter’s current trip do not produce prompt and specific results. My suggestion is essentially an elaboration of Dept’s point no. one in Deptel 502 [Page 201](rptd KL 454 and London 3503),4 but requires that Amb Bell and I get into this actively somewhat as follows:

  • Step 1: I go to Sukarno and endeavor to obtain agreement to make unpublicized halt in further guerrilla raids, incursions, sabotage, etc., for period three (3) weeks as earnest of GOI’s good intentions.5 Simple plea on my part would be redundant and probably useless. I propose that I seek his commitment in return for promise of active display of American interest in promoting settlement at end of three week period.

    It seems to me scenario along following lines would have best chance of success. I would tell Sukarno that I not acting under instructions but that I believe USG would be willing assist in bringing contesting parties together if it clear GOI really wants to negotiate. I would point out fact HMG and GOM appear to doubt that he wishes end military action. Thus I believe it essential he demonstrate his serious intentions by halting all military action for a period of three (3) weeks. I would tell him that if this is done I believe my government would agree to assist in efforts to move dispute to conference table. I would then outline briefly steps described below. Ask President whether he believes idea has merit, and seek determine whether he interested in putting into effect three (3) week moratorium to see if plan can be carried out.

    I would point out that actual performance and not just promise was essential as any default would inevitably become known to GOM/HMG and thus poison prospect for success. In addition, cessation of hostilities would be expected to continue during period active discussions taking place in capitals concerned.

  • Step 2: If Sukarno forthcoming, inform HMG and GOM of Sukarno’s commitment and importance taking constructive attitude to see if he is bluffing. Also express reassurances that any USG initiative will be taken only when Sukarno’s performance on promise is evident and that our efforts designed solely to get parties together, not to take sides in dispute. Throughout, I believe fact of cease-fire must be kept secret (we should have no difficulty measuring actual performance), for if GOM publicly reveals such a commitment in advance of more basic political understandings, Sukarno will almost certainly repudiate whole thing and charge Tunku with insincerity.
  • Step 3: If cessation of hostilities effective, I would proceed to Kuala Lumpur to confer with Amb Bell and discuss situation with such GOM authorities as Bell deems appropriate. (I am of course well acquainted with many GOM personalities from earlier years and would hope that announcement of my intention to resign will have removed to considerable degree whatever stigma of partisanship GOM leaders might have attached to me.) Frank discussion of internal Indo developments and attitudes might be useful in convincing GOM leadership that it in our common interest to engage Indos in negotiations as means avoiding escalation, buying time, and inhibiting PKI. I would be able to argue that Sukarno’s adherence to moratorium on hostilities justified positive Malaysian participation in attempt to reopen political dialogue and search for appropriate mechanism or formula which could remove some of dangers inherent in present military phase of Indo confrontation.
  • Step 4: Amb Bell and I proceed together to Djakarta for discussions with Sukarno and Subandrio in effort nail down whatever understanding may have been reached with GOM, whether it involves initiation of direct GOI-GOM contacts, implementation of AACC concept, or some other suggestion.

In conclusion, I wish to say that in suggesting Dept use Bell and me to connect wires between KL and Djakarta, I do so recognizing that this is thankless task and that I would welcome any alternative Dept or Amb Bell may have to suggest. Main point is that I consider it vital to get something underway soonest. Time, as I have said before, is not on our side.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Bangkok, Canberra, CINCPAC for POLAD, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Singapore, Tokyo, USUN, and Wellington.
  2. Document 93.
  3. In telegram 646 from Djakarta, October 2, Jones suggested that after abatement of military hostilities and considerable diplomatic spade work, the AACC should be constituted with Thailand (the Philippine’s candidate), Pakistan (Sukarno’s candidate) and Malagasy Republic (a potential candidate for Malaysia) with Japan named as the fourth member. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA)
  4. See footnote 6, Document 88.
  5. In telegram 726 from Kuala Lumpur, December 16, Bell stated he did not think that the Malaysians would be willing to act on the basis of a 3-week cessation of hostilities. Bell recommended trying to obtain an open-ended commitment from Sukarno for cessation. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA) In telegram 1135 from Djakarta, December 17, Jones stated that he did not intend to imply that hostilities would be permitted to resume after 3 weeks, but he was sure that he could not convince Sukarno to give an open pledge. (Ibid.)