141. Letter From President Carter to Indonesian President Suharto1

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to express my hope that you will support a freeze on oil prices at the forthcoming meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and to explain why I believe this is necessary in order to sustain world economic security.

I have become increasingly concerned in recent months over the outlook for the global economy. Many nations, in both the developed and developing worlds, suffer from persistent unemployment, massive trade deficits, large external debt, and low rates of growth. Pressures for protectionism are rising. International lending institutions are becoming more cautious.

If these conditions continue, the world economy could suffer lasting damage. Over the last thirty years, the nations of the world have cooperated to reduce trade barriers and to expand resources for development. They have created an environment which offers developing countries improving prospects for long-term growth. These gains could be eroded by economic stagnation and protectionism.

All our countries must work closely together in the critical months ahead to avert these setbacks. Our energy policies will be the key to the outcome. In my energy program, I have recognized the responsibility of the United States to reduce the growth of its demand for fossil fuels, and thus help prevent future shortages. At the Caracas meeting, the most effective contribution which your government and the other member governments could make to world economic recovery would be to freeze the price of oil, at least through 1978. I believe that a freeze would serve the long-run economic interest of all countries, producers as well as consumers. At this critical juncture, any increase in the price of oil in 1978 would strain the system of trade and finance on which we all depend.

Because this question of an oil price freeze is crucial to world economy recovery, it is at the center of my concerns in respect to both [Page 466] domestic and foreign policy, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my views with you about it.

I am pleased that under your leadership Indonesia and the United States have intensified their collaboration on political and social, as well as economic, issues. I look forward to continued close cooperation for the well-being and security of both our peoples.


Jimmy Carter

Best personal wishes to you—

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 9, Indonesia: President Suharto, 12/77–1/80. No classification marking. A similar letter to Pérez was personally delivered by Vance on November 23; see footnote 7, Document 138. On December 13, the President also sent similar letters to Sheikhs Sabah, Khalifa, and Zayed, which are in telegram 296833 to Kuwait, telegram 296835 to Doha, and telegram 296836 to Abu Dhabi, respectively. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D770474–0828, D770463–1041, D770463–1037)
  2. President Carter added the initialed postscript by hand.