298. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Military Assistance for Cambodia

PRESIDENT SUHARTO’S WASHINGTON VISIT—CONCURRENT WHITE HOUSE TALKS

[Omitted here is the list of participants, which is identical to that in Document 296.]

Mr. Malik noted that participants in the Djakarta Conference agreed that they should concentrate on finding a peaceful solution to the Cambodian problem, leaving the matter of military aid for bilateral negotiations. The Cambodians nonetheless informally asked all of the participants for weapons and even troops. The Indonesians understood that Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and some others have promised aid.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Yem Sambaur had high hopes of obtaining military aid from Indonesia, Malik continued, but the Indonesians explained that the maximum they could give was training assistance. Providing the Cambodians with an adequate supply of weapons would not seem too difficult, Malik said, if arms captured by South Vietnamese and U.S. troops could be given to Cambodia. Malik explained that, according to Indonesian information there was, however, another problem over and above the shortage of arms: the Cambodian Armed Forces are not yet able to handle any significant volume of arms. [Page 641]They need training first, Malik said, and Indonesia can perhaps help in this field.

Mr. Green remarked that Malik seemed to envisage two concurrent courses of action regarding Cambodia: diplomatic efforts, which depended in good part on the Soviet Union and the outcome of which is not yet clear, and action to keep the Cambodian Government afloat while these diplomatic efforts are proceeding. Mr. Green noted that the U.S. is giving limited support to Cambodia, primarily in the form of small arms. The U.S. hopes that others will provide support also, not only because it is needed militarily, but also because this support would provide a psychological boost to the Cambodian Government and signal to Moscow and others that the countries of the area are willing to work together to preserve peace.

In response to Mr. Green’s question on how Indonesia would help Cambodia in the field of training, Malik explained that Indonesia had in mind bringing Cambodians quietly to Indonesia for training in guerrilla warfare. They could be blanketed with other nationalities training there, he added, without attracting undue attention. Indonesia is also considering sending Indonesian instructors to Cambodia, which Malik felt would reveal Indonesia’s hand too openly. Another possibility, Malik said, is the attaching of some officers to the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh to help advise the Cambodian Government on military matters in a liaison capacity. This matter is still under discussion by Indonesian defense officials, Malik said, and a decision has not yet been made.

Malik said Indonesia was caught between two difficult problems: Lon Nol Government fail on the other.

Malik said there was one related matter he wanted to mention. According to Indonesia’s information, Cambodia does not have direct, open contacts with the U.S. on matters such as military aid; as a result, Cambodia is trying to channel its requests through third countries. Perhaps, Malik said, the U.S. could calm Cambodia by giving more direct proof of its support. The Cambodians, for example, have mentioned to the Indonesians the possibility of dealing with the U.S. on military matters through the former U.S. military attaché in Phnom Penh who is well known to the Cambodian military.

Mr. Richardson assured Malik that we are in direct touch with the Government of Cambodia through our Chargé in Phnom Penh on aid and all other matters and that additional channels are not needed.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 INDON. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Masters and approved by Stempel (U) on June 11. The memorandum is part IV of IV; part III, U.S. Troops in Cambodia is ibid.; parts I and II are Documents 296 and 297. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House.