289. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State 1
Djakarta, April 19, 1970, 1130Z.
2738. Subj: Indonesian Help to Cambodia. For Asst Sec Green from Ambassador.
- At informal Sunday luncheon meeting at residence, General Alamsjah, who as you know is one of President Suharto’s closest advisers, raised Cambodian issue with me. He indicated awareness of my talk with Suharto and of at least my first talk with Sumuatmoko and he asked whether I’d had any response from Washington on proposition that if Indonesia gave arms assistance U.S. would replenish. After my negative reply Alamsjah urged I try again.
- Alamsjah said it was Indonesia’s assessment that unless Lon Nol Government received arms and other help within next two weeks it might fail. Result of that would be increased Communist threat in Southeast Asia.
- Alamsjah said Indonesia felt it urgent to get small arms for from five to ten battalions into Cambodia within next two weeks. He indicated Indonesia was prepared to do this (I asked him if Indonesia was thinking of supplying AK–47s and he indicated vaguely that this was possible) but that unless these arms were replenished Indonesia itself might be facing increased internal threat. Alamsjah said Indonesia was prepared to supply small arms, training assistance both within Cambodia and in Indonesia, and close air support. Latter would depend entirely, however, on willingness U.S. to supply T–37s and OV–10s.
- I told Alamsjah that I thought it best that Indonesia work out with Cambodian Government whatever assistance it thought it should and could give without reference to any arrangement with U.S. I said I thought questions of U.S. supply of small arms and aircraft to Indonesia should be quite separate matter. I said otherwise some leak linking two was almost inevitable and would be devastating. Alamsjah indicated agreement in principle but said some reassurance from U.S. that replenishment would follow was essential.
- Alamsjah said Suharto thinking in terms of flying small arms into Cambodia from and basing any air support for Cambodia on Natuna Island which about two hours flying time from Phnom Penh.
- I asked Alamsjah whether Foreign Minister Adam Malik, who I knew had some ideas on trying to shore up Cambodian neutrality on diplomatic front, was aware and approved of Indonsia military assistance to Cambodia. Alamsjah answered affirmatively. He said he had discussed it with Malik before latter left for Manila a little over a week ago and Malik had commented that it was important that whatever was done be done expeditiously.
- Alamsjah said Suharto regarded Indonesian efforts to help Cambodia to be implementation of the Nixon Doctrine.
- Comment: You and I know that Alamsjah unlikely to be most coordinated chanel in Indonesian Government. But he is close to Suharto and I have hunch that he accurately reflects Suharto’s thinking. He may not be au courant with Sutopo Juwono [1 line of source text not declassified]2, indeed Sutopo may not yet have made pitch to [Page 623] Suharto. Sutopo in turn probable awaiting Malik’s return and perhaps return Indonesian team from Cambodia.
- Although there is serious doubt in my mind that Indonesians would be very effective in this, their first, exercise in providing military assistance to beleagured neighbors, I tend to think it would be salutary for them to get their feet a little wet in their attempt to give content to the Nixon Doctrine on Asians taking intitative. I suggest therefore that I be authorized to suggest to Suharto that they work out whatever they think they can and should do to block expansion of Communist threat in Cambodia and that they will find U.S. sympathetic to problems of replacement and replenishment which, however, must be handled quite separately and unrelated to what they do for Cambodia.