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

554. Djakarta’s 1144 (Notal).2 Dept shares your concern over worsening situation in Indo and concurs your proposal for full review with Sukarno when you see him Dec 19.

We not optimistic that any initiative open to us at this stage will be sufficient induce Sukarno to ease confrontation or even refrain from further moves against US interests in Indo. Conceivable, although doubtful, that combination adroit handling and pressure of events could make him trim his sails at this point. In any event, we agree every effort must be made. We believe, however, that points made in Kuala Lumpur’s 7313 are valid. Sukarno will certainly attempt exploit any initiative on our part and will do his best interpret it as sign other side is weakening.

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One thing we must avoid is commitment to Sukarno (or proposal he would twist into commitment) which we cannot fulfill. We would also have to consult Malaysians and British before undertaking any explicit move aimed at reopening negotiations. Malaysians and British almost certain reject out of hand any formula that would require them start substantive talks with Indos in return for moratorium on incursions limited to specific time period. Open-ended moratorium would probably be salable without further conditions (i.e., academic insistence on withdrawals) but we cannot guarantee this or give Sukarno grounds for claiming our guarantee. Following approach has not been discussed with British or Australians and we would not propose do so until Sukarno response known.

When you see Sukarno, you should proceed along following lines:

Tell him you have been instructed to convey following personal message from President:
President has noted with concern recent reports regarding Sukarno’s health. He extends his best wishes for speedy full recovery and hopes current difficulties will in no way impair Sukarno’s continued leadership Indo people. If Sukarno and his doctors believe it would be helpful, President would be pleased provide services of appropriate US medical specialist to travel Indo to assist in diagnosis. FYI. You should take no initiative in offering US medical facilities. For various reasons, including responsibility for life of such a sick national leader, we prefer that Sukarno not come US for treatment. If specialist visits Indonesia, he will be similarly instructed. If Sukarno raises matter, however, you should respond that you would be happy inform USG of his interest and are confident USG would do whatever it could to be of help. End FYI.
President is concerned over present state US-Indo relations and is anxious reverse unfortunate trend of past few months. He understands Sukarno is considering visit to New York World Fair next spring. If so, and if conditions otherwise appropriate, this would provide excellent opportunity for friendly review our mutual problems. Sukarno might consider visit at time official Fair re-opening in order officiate at opening Indo pavilion. Following that, President would be happy welcome him to Washington for informal talks, subject to unforeseen circumstances which might affect schedule of either one.4
In regard to Indonesia-Malaysia dispute, you should tell Sukarno (stating you doing so on instruction if you believe this useful) that we continue to be more than willing to assist Sukarno in finding honorable solution to the problem which exists between him and Malaysia. In our opinion, what is preventing negotiated solution at this point is fact that continuation hostile actions by Indonesia against Malaysia has led GOM, HMG, GOA to believe that, despite public protestations to contrary, Indonesia does not really want to settle the problem. We feel that if Sukarno would quietly cut off hostile action a new atmosphere would be created in which hopefully we would be able to work effectively to encourage negotiations. We cannot estimate how long this would take, but would watch situation closely and plan to keep in touch with Sukarno on it. You should emphasize, however, that we are simply unable to encourage anyone negotiate in this situation under present circumstances.5

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–US. Secret. Drafted by Ingraham, cleared by Rusk, Harriman, Green, and McGeorge Bundy, and approved by William Bundy. Repeated to Kuala Lumpur, London, and Canberra.
  2. In telegram 1144 from Djakarta, December 18, Jones reported that he planned to see Sukarno over the weekend for a frank discussion with him to avoid a chain of events which could result in “virtual elimination of US from Indon scene.” (Ibid.) To prevent this eventuality, Jones wanted a personal message from President Johnson to Sukarno, an offer of the use of Walter Reed Hospital for treatment of Sukarno’s illness, an invitation for Sukarno to come to Washington in the spring of 1965 for a working visit with the President, and a statement of U.S. willingness to assist in the Malaysia dispute along the lines of Document 94.
  3. Document 95.
  4. In a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, December 18, William Bundy stated that he had in mind for Sukarno “nothing more than a noon call followed by a small luncheon. This would fit the kind of courtesy we would show any head of state who turned up for the World’s Fair.” William Bundy continued that “our medical reports make it sound at best 50–50 that Sukarno will be around then,” still Bundy thought an offer of a visit could have a favorable effect for the present. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, Memos, 9/64–2/65, [2 of 2])
  5. In telegram 1182 from Djakarta, December 24, Jones reported that he had a 11/2 hour private talk with Sukarno that provided a full opportunity to discuss problems. The President’s message and the offer of trip to Washington was “most helpful in establishing favorable atmosphere.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 INDON)