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270. Memorandum for the Record1

SUBJECT

  • Meeting with Indonesian Generals

Mr. Kissinger met on July 27 with General Sumitro, the Defense Chief of Staff, General Tjakradipura, the Minister for Interior, and General Sutopo Juwono, the Army Staff Intelligence Chief. The generals had asked for the meeting at President Suharto’s request. Mr. Kissinger was accompanied by Messrs. Holdridge and Lake of his staff.

The generals made the following points:

1.
The U.S. should stay in Vietnam long enough to provide Indonesia—and other Southeast Asian nations—with time to strengthen themselves against Communism. The generals were concerned by press reports that the U.S. intends to withdraw by the end of 1970, and showed great relief when Mr. Kissinger said that the U.S. has no intention of withdrawing without regard for the circumstances. The key is a reasonable, tolerable outcome.2 The generals stated that the U.S. should concentrate on strengthening the GVN; in five years, but no less,3 a South Vietnam capable of defending itself could emerge.
2.
The Indonesian military are developing plans for one half a Corps of troops which could be contributed to an international peacekeeping force.
3.
Although the primary Indonesian emphasis is on economic development, the Indonesian Armed Forces need assistance to build for the future.4 The only specific request the generals mentioned was for more training. General Sumitro will give Mr. Kissinger this request in writing on July 28. Mr. Kissinger said that we would consider this request very sympathetically.5
4.
The generals said that they had intelligence reports that Hanoi is interested in a temporary ceasefire to gain a breathing spell.6 The North Vietnamese economy was devastated by U.S. bombing, and Hanoi’s manpower pool is depleted. The VC are harder and more pro-Peking than Hanoi.
5.
The generals clearly disagreed with Foreign Minister Malik’s statement about the desirability of taking VC into the GVN. This, they said, was “political.”
6.
The generals expressed concern that a secret Soviet deal existed.7 Mr. Kissinger assured them that the U.S. has no secret agreements with Russia.
7.
The generals suggested that Russian proposals for Asian Collective Security arrangements are designed to stimulate Chinese attacks on Southeast Asia before a pact could be arranged; these attacks would relieve pressures on Siberia and involve the Chinese in confrontation with the U.S.
  • —Mr. Kissinger noted our desire to work with the Indonesians on a basis of equality. We can work with all nations when our interests coincide. We do not seek client states; we prefer healthy independence.
  • —Mr. Kissinger also stressed the point that we do not intend to “withdraw from Asia” or fail to live up to our commitments. With regard to Indonesia, an attack on so important a nation would clearly threaten the peace of Asia, and we would take it very seriously.

The generals asked that the meeting be closely held to the White House, and specifically indicated a desire that the State Department not be informed. They said that if they had further information or views which they wished to convey to Mr. Kissinger, they would do so through a military attaché (an intelligence man) at the Embassy in Washington.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1048, Staff Files, Lake Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Presumably drafted by Tony Lake. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. The President underlined this sentence.
  3. The President underlined the words “in five years, but no less.”
  4. The President underlined from the word “Indonesian” to the end of the sentence.
  5. In a backchannel message to Jakarta, August 11, Kissinger, who had accompanied Nixon on this Southeast Asia trip, informed General Sumitro that he had discussed their conversation with President Nixon and that the latter had “indicated that he would look with favor on your proposal for initiating expanding military training. Along these lines, would you please provide me through this channel with the specific proposals that you would like the U.S. Government to entertain. The President would be grateful for early advance notice on this project.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. I)
  6. The President underlined the words “Hanoi is interested in a temporary”.
  7. The President underlined from the word “secret” to the end of the sentence.