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

2311. For Assistant Secretary Green from Ambassador. Ref: State 46727.2

In meeting with Suharto evening April 1, I told him I had a matter of some urgency that I had wanted to discuss with FonMin Malik but he was abroad. It was matter which I thought had to be considered at top level.
I said situation in Cambodia and question of preserving Cambodia’s neutrality were most worrisome. I said Malik’s statement a few days earlier stressing the importance of Cambodia’s neutrality had been helpful. I spoke of the importance of underlining and doing all possible to preserve Cambodian neutrality, and of the difficulty for U.S. to do much because we were already accused of having been somehow involved in change of governments in Phnom Penh. I emphasized, of course, this not true and Suharto appeared accept this. I asked whether Suharto had thoughts about what might be done, whether there had been any consultation with Indonesia’s neighbors, whether he thought it might help if group of Asian nations such as ASEAN were to evidence interest and support for Cambodia’s neutrality.
Suharto said current events in Cambodia were difficult to interpret, because of paucity of information and conflicting reports. It was necessary to study the Cambodian situation carefully in order determine whether support to Lon Nol was indeed the way to preserve Cambodian neutrality and the best chance for Cambodia’s continued independence. He reflected considerable caution that Indonesia not be caught in support, verbally or otherwise, of an unsuccessful Cambodian regime, or in a posture which would both weaken Cambodia and be seen as collusion between GOI and USG.
Suharto thought best thing currently to be done was to try to strengthen support among Asian nations for UN consideration of threats to Cambodian neutrality and he implied that GOI was prepared to support such an effort.
Suharto said that if it developed that Lon Nol was able consolidate FARK and people behind him and he needed outside help, GOI would be prepared try to help him. But, Suharto said, Indonesia had no physical possibility of helping Cambodia.
Suharto added that it might be vital to U.S. position in SVN that Lon Nol receive help and perhaps GOI could serve as channel for U.S. assistance which would, if given directly, otherwise compromise Cambodian neutrality. I said it would be next to impossible in American system to channel our assistance in any way that would not become known and further complicate problem.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified]3 reports GOI has sent message to Indon delegation UN to quietly but urgently push for some move by U Thant. GOI is thinking of UN peacekeeping force for Cambodia and, if requested by UN, GOI would be prepared to participate in such a force, along with such other truly non-aligned nations as Burma and Sweden. But only if UN requested GOI participation.GOI believes there need for prompt UN action and is worried that U Thant will drag feet and do nothing.GOI has not discussed this plan with RKG, nor has GOI offered any assistance to RKG.
Comment: As we have noted previously, Suharto, while appearing to realize importance of maintaining Indonesia’s non-aligned position, does not appear always to realize nuances of protecting that position. Malik and FonDept generally take care of this aspect. Suharto appeared stimulated by our discussion of this problem but I have feeling he needs Malik’s guidance. In any case, my discussions on Cambodian problem here last few days reveal that Indonesians are thinking mainly of UN not ASEAN as vehicle for group action and they obviously want to be part of larger and non-aligned supported effort.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 284.
  3. Not found.