279. Telegram From the Embassy in Australia to the Department of State 1
Vipto 020/285. Subj: Vice President’s Meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Malik. Dept Pass AmEmbassy Djakarta.
- The Vice President met with Foreign Minister Malik for one hour and twenty minutes on January 11 in Bali.2 Malik was accompanied by Anwar Sani and Abu Bakar Lubis. Ambassador Galbraith, Mr. Crane and Mrs. Duemling were also present.
- After an exchange of pleasantries, the Vice President expressed interest in Indonesia’s economic development plans. He indicated awareness of Indonesia’s great resources, its geographic expanse, and asked how long the Foreign Minister thought it would take to achieve their objectives.
- Malik responded that at least five years would be required just to re-establish the economy which had been ravaged during the Sukarno years. In this time he hoped Indonesia could become self-sufficient in food production. The distribution infrastructure was key because some areas produce a surplus while others are in deficit. Indonesia’s problem was to increase its productivity for current consumption at the same time it is investing in infrastructure. Foreign investment is most welcome but it takes time for results since at least two years are required for research and preparation. However, Malik hoped that Indonesia would reach the “take-off point” by the end of the first five-year plan.
Java presents the greatest problem because of population density and high annual population increase. Malik reviewed Indonesia’s experience with transmigration. During the colonial period, entire families with all their goods were evacuated, but this technique simply transplanted the same static condition to the new location.
- During the occupation, the Japanese engaged in forced migration. Both techniques yielded poor results. After independence, several schemes were tried leading to general confusion. Attempts to clear virgin jungle suffered from inadequate preparation, with the result that the people’s spirits were broken before they became established. Now the government is considering using the armed forces in jungle clearance as part of their civic action program.
- Current thinking on transmigration includes provision of jobs and housing as well as a subsidy until migrants can earn their own livings, though this will be costly. Also, younger people will be encouraged to migrate (rather than entire families) since they are more energetic and carry a new spirit. In addition to jungle clearing, new industries will be created and new foreign enterprises encouraged. The government hopes for a chain reaction relationship between foreign investment and migration.
- The Vice President complimented Malik on the sagacity of Indonesia’s planning for migration and its intention to balance agriculture and industry. He hoped foreign investment would ameliorate the Indonesian plans. He thought another stimulating factor could be economic cooperation within the region. Population control remains a problem because most people are happiest in large groups. However, congested areas are time bombs whose potential for disruption and civil disorder offer an easy mark to extremists. Therefore, the problem is political as well as economic. The Vice President concluded by pressing his admiration for Indonesian realism on this matter and his hope that the IGGI nations could be helpful.
Outcome of ASEAN Meeting[Page 607]
In response to a question from the Vice President about current regional cooperation on security matters, Malik reviewed in some detail the results of the ASEAN meeting held in Malaysia in December 1969. Malik suggested that progress so far had only resulted in agreement on the need for cooperation. Prior to the ASEAN meeting there had been some apprehension among the membership about one disruptive influence of the Sabah issue, but President Marcos had the courage to relax tensions by recognizing that a political approach as well as a juridicial one was possible. Therefore, the Philippines had been willing to put its claim aside for the time being without actually renouncing it. Marcos told Malik that he hopes to visit the Tunku in March or April 1970.
- At the ASEAN meeting the five member nations recognized the limitations of their own funds and therefore agreed on a token $1 million contribution from each. Since they have also approved 98 projects, it is clear that the available funds are woefully inadequate. However, this symbolic beginning was a good one.
- Malik expects short-term results in tourism and communications and perhaps long-term cooperation in such projects as steel production. On the latter point he said the participants hoped to agree on a site close to the source of raw materials.
- Malik also mentioned several possibilities for bilateral operation (in addition to multi-lateral): between Indonesia and the Philippines on copra production, Indonesia and Malaysia on rubber and tin, etc.
- Progress had also been made in reducing tensions. For example, Malaysia in recent years had been fearful that Indonesia might be dominated by communism, religious extremists or a military regime; Malik thought Indonesia had helped alleviate these fears by bringing Malaysian students over to study in the Indonesian Armed Services Staff College. In the same spirit, Indonesia has not objected to Australia becoming a substitute for the United Kingdom in Malaysian defense matters. Indonesia has also attempted to calm Singapore’s apprehensions about the fate of Chinese in Indonesia by easing the citizenship requirements.
- A common fear expressed at the ASEAN meeting, Malik said, related to the post-Vietnam period. Since the ASEAN charter has no military aspects, the question of defense was discussed informally, outside the regular meetings. In the case of major war or invasion, the countries are planning to send troops to one another; in this respect the others look primarily to Indonesia. This is compatible with Indonesia’s forward defense doctrine which favors fighting outside Indonesian territory in the event of a clear threat. Malik said Indonesia is not planning on this at the present time but it wishes to consider the means of avoiding open attack. Malik said he had stressed the necessity of these [Page 608]nations demonstrating their unity and strength to help avoid attack. They had achieved understanding on the exchange of information among their top military intelligence officers, though this will take place outside the ASEAN framework.
- In considering the post-Vietnam situation, the ministers had asked the Vietnamese and Lao observers at the meeting to explain the situation in their countries. The Ministers then held bi-lateral talks with the Vietnamese Foreign Minister since each country has slightly different relations with and policies toward Vietnam. Indonesia, for example, agreed with the Vietnamese Foreign Minister to exchange information on subversion. Vietnam wanted to insist on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Indonesia. But, Malik said, Indonesia is “in different position from Thailand and the Philippines.” So for the time being, this will not be possible. However, they have agreed to operate a chamber of commerce in each others’ capitals. In response to questions from Ambassador Galbraith, Malik and Sani said that the chamber of commerce mechanism was chosen (rather than a trade office) Malik pointed out, however, that each government would be free to appoint anyone to this position and it could be an official, even a high-ranking diplomat.
Additions to ASEAN
On the subject of other nations joining ASEAN, Malik provided the following summary. Thailand thought Burma would not join because of the possible reaction from Communist China. Similarly, Ceylon’s trade with China is too important to jeopardize. Australia and New Zealand are already associated with two ASEAN countries through the Commonwealth. Malik mentioned that Australia had asked Indonesia for its thoughts about Australian relationship to ASEAN, as well as about the Indonesian role in in Southeast Asian security. Malik said that Indonesian cooperation with Australia and New Zealand is improving and expanding especially through the navy and air force. He said border problems between Australia and Indonesia in New Guinea (Irian) had all been settled.
- The Vice President expressed complete agreement with the ASEAN emphasis on economic cooperation and the organizations’ tentative interest in regional security. He suggested that the current danger is not so much all-out invasion as it is insurrection and infiltration. If people have confidence in their government they will willingly combat insurrection and countries which have a stake in foreign trade will be interested in assisting their neighbors.
The Vice President also mentioned steps which the US is taking to reduce tensions with Communist China. These are small steps and we [Page 609]do not plan to relax our vigilance, but Communist China already appears to have responded with a desire to resume the Warsaw talks.
- The Vice President then commented about US policy in Vietnam which was in accordance with the feelings of the American people, though not necessarily with the views of the press. We hope to conclude the Vietnam War as quickly as possible. However, the war is not over and we will face a difficult problem with American public opinion unless the nations of Southeast Asia indicate their concern and support for our position. The Vice President pointed out that immediate disengagement, as some people urge, is not compatible with the security of Vietnam. The American public is somewhat bewildered because, although our government receives private assurances from Southeast Asian nations, some Asian leaders often leave the impression in public that the US is not welcome.
- As for what might be done in these circumstances, the Vice President suggested that small nations could help if they would frankly tell us when we are doing something wrong or abrasive. Similarly, they should be equally frank with the Soviet Union. They could also shore up American public opinion and counter isolationist sentiment by being equally frank when they agree with US policy. These approaches might also help diminish tensions with the USSR and Communist China.
- The Vice President said that the Thieu Government is enjoying continued success. Enemy activities have decreased but major attack is still possible, and its effect would not be military so much as psychological because it would once again arouse anti-war activities in the US. Whether or not our withdrawal is precipitate depends in part on whether Asian nations are able to impress their concern on American public opinion. The American people will believe one side or the other. At the moment, President Nixon’s head-on approach has turned public opinion in his favor but this situation would be seriously impaired by a preemptive Communist attack. The Vice President expressed complete agreement with a toast made in Singapore by Prime Minister Lee in which he cited the folly of notifying the Communists about the time and level of our withdrawals. The Vice President understood the delicacy of Indonesia’s domestic politics but he hoped Indonesia would find an opportunity to indicate that the Americans are wanted in Asia.
- Foreign Minister Malik replied that the subject of the American presence now and in the future had often been discussed among the Southeast Asian nations. They do not favor a precipitate withdrawal because they are not yet prepared to assume the defense burden, although they cannot admit this publicly. (Malik said that even after the Vietnam War is over America should not become isolationist because [Page 610]its assistance will be needed. When he last saw President Nixon in Washington he had expressed this need and also mentioned the need to determine how Southeast Asian nations can help Vietnam.) The Vice President mentioned how impressed he had been while visiting Vietnam with the cooperation between US and Vietnamese troops. If the US adheres to reasonable levels of withdrawal, we can successfully transfer responsibility to the Vietnamese. He also drew an analogy with our experience in Korea where, today, very few US troops are involved. Korea is also an example of how a country’s ability to defend itself depends on economic stability.
Malik said he would not wish to conclude the meeting without mentioning US-Indonesian relations, which he thought were going well. He particularly commended our understanding of Indonesia’s needs, as demonstrated at the recent IGGI meeting, and hoped Indonesia would also have our support in convincing other nations that they should help. The Vice President said that our ability to respond depends on our own budgetary situation. We look upon assistance as an investment in world society. However, many Americans think our efforts are not appreciated. The Vice President recognized the problem of incurring reactions from Communist states, but he thought countries like Indonesia should take a calculated risk in this matter. The Vice President thought it was important for nations to make clear which economic system they favored and which promised them the greatest gains.
- Malik said that the Indonesian people recognize what the US has done and this recognition will be made clearer in the future.
- The Vice President asked Malik to convey his best wishes to President Suharto, expressed his regrets at not being able to visit Djakarta but stated that he looks forward to seeing President Suharto when he visits Washington. Malik indicated he would transmit this message.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/AGNEW. Secret; Immediate.↩
- Kissinger prepared talking points for Agnew’s meeting with Malik in a December 17 memorandum. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 82, V.P., Agnew Trip Dec. 1969–Jan. 1970)↩