125. Memorandum of Conversation, Camp David, Maryland, July 5, 1975, 12:45–2 p.m.1 2



  • His Excellency Adam Malik, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affair
  • Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro, Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry; Chairman of the National Planning Board
  • Lieutenant General Sudharmono, Minister, State Secretary
  • His Excellency Rusmin Nurjadin, the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the United States
  • Lieutenant General Tjokropranolo, Military Secretary to the President
  • Mr. R.B.I.N. Didi Djajadiningrat, Director General for Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Lieutenant General Widya Latief, Chief of State Protocol, Director General of Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs
  • General Leonardus Moerdani, Deputy Chief of State Intelligence
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. William Casey, President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank
  • Mr. Daniel Parker, Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • Mr. Charles Robinson, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
  • Mr. Philip Habib, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Mr. Robert Ellsworth, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Mr. Charles Cooper, Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs
  • Ambassador Henry Catto, Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. W.R. Smyser, National Security Council Staff Member

DATE, TIME & PLACE: Saturday, July 5, 1975
12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Camp David

[Page 2]

Kissinger: I am delighted to welcome you here today for this conversation.

The relations between our countries have been close for some time. We admire your internal and external programs and policies. We appreciate the moderate policies that Indonesia has pursued in international forums.

In my conversations with the Foreign Minister, I have developed respect and friendship for him.

We meet at a time when events in Southeast Asia have undoubtedly raised questions about how the United States sees its role in Southeast Asia and in the world. Despite these events in Southeast Asia, many of which are due to internal conditions that it was beyond anybody’s power to affect, the United States is determined to continue to play a role in Asia.

The United States considers Indonesia one of the principal countries in Asia, and the main center of power in Southeast Asia. This is the basis of our approach, and we will deal with you on the basis of that attitude. We will also deal with you as friends.

You may wish to get this meeting started by giving us the benefit of your views.

Malik: I am glad to have the chance to meet today.

As for the relations between the United States and Indonesia, we have never had any doubts despite events in Southeast Asia.

This relationship is not based on an American desire to be dependent on Indonesia or vice versa, but on a sense of the common interests that we share.

When Mr. Habib visited Indonesia, this was conveyed to him. So the difficulty is not in Indonesian-American relations but the problem is that with the new situation in Southeast Asia, Indonesia needs to assess its role in the new situation.

As you may remember, when we founded ASEAN seven years ago, we already considered the possibility that eventually ASEAN would have to face a Communist menace in Southeast Asia. But of course seven years ago we could not speak the same language as now with our neighbors in Southeast Asia. Then, many neighbors wanted to be wholly dependent on you.

[Page 3]

Now the situation is different. Now some Southeast Asia nations are hoping that Indonesia would fulfill a role on which they could depend. But this is wrong.

At the last ASEAN Foreign Ministers conference, Indonesia made it clear that we could not be dependent on anyone but that together we should strengthen ourselves.

So there has been a change of thinking. But we still need some time.

Our problem is how every Southeast Asian country will implement its resolve to strengthen itself.

At Kuala Lumpur, we gave our own views on strengthening our national resilience, but I stressed that each country would have to find its own role and its own method.

For example, Thailand; I think Thailand is now enveloped in a kind of fervor. They want to do everything democratically. But they are facing a threatening force.

Kissinger: Have you explained this to them?

Malik: We have told them that, in combating Communism, they must have their own ideology. So far as we can see, they do not yet have that. They also need closer cooperation between the civilians and the military. At present, we have the impression that the Khukrit government is not cooperating with the military.

Thailand has strength. The King is a symbol who is widely accepted. So we suggested four points to them:

  • — First, to use the King as symbol of unity.
  • — Second, to use it to develop a national ideology. This should also be based on Buddhism.
  • — Third, we suggested the military and the civilians cooperate more.
  • — Fourth, we suggested that, on the basis of those elements, they build a program of economic and social development.

[Page 4]

We will see how they do it and we will help them. In Malaysia, we face a different problem. They have a democratic system with a strong ruling party. They have a difficulty on how to deal with the large Chinese minority. They must also be very careful in developing their relations between west and east Malaysia. Between west and east there are different styles and prescriptions. For example, in their relations with China...

Kissinger: Is one part more pro-Chinese? Is one part more in favor of relations?

Malik: The eastern part is more reluctant because of the Moslem influence. Also, the older leaders are less eager to have relations with the PRC.

In Singapore, the position is not so difficult to assess. Ninety percent of the population is Chinese. Lee Kuan Yew’s fear of relations with the PRC is that the Singapore/Chinese may develop into a target for the PRC once relations are established.

The situation in the Philippines depends on how far Marcos, who commands the majority, is able to get the people to support their policies. I think our suggestions for Thailand also apply to the Philippines. It also needs a national ideology, though a different one from Thailand. It also needs effective economic and social programs.

In developing national resilience, we are not just concerned with social and economic programs but also with strengthening defense. So far, ASEAN has developed some military cooperation such as intelligence cooperation and joint exercises. We intend in a short time to have meetings of officials of our countries to determine what cooperation we have in the defense field. But, even if this defense cooperation will proceed as we hope, none of the ASEAN nations at present has the capacity to produce material for defense. The ASEAN nations need assistance from outside countries in producing defense goods.

As we see it now, American support will not decrease but the form of U.S. assistance will change.

If we want to achieve our objectives, we must proceed in such a way as mot to be open to charges that foreign forces are among us, but we want to work with our friends.

The thrust of Indonesian and ASEAN policies has met with Australian support, which faces its own concerns. If ASEAN succeeds, it will mean a lot for Australia.

[Page 5]

I will give just one example: The ASEAN countries will be able to build up a capacity for detecting any movement in the area, and eventually to include Australia, and this will also have significance for the United States. We would be able to enhance the capacity to detect movement in the sea lanes.

It is obvious that one country has to take the initiative. We are prepared to do that.

I think that whether the United States remains or removes itself from Thailand bases or from Subic Bay, if we have a common understanding it would not be significant whether you stay.

We must explore how ASEAN can use the bases and continue them.

We believe that America still has large interests and responsibilities in the area, which we think you will meet, but in a new and different way — hopefully as I have indicated.

Of course, in facing the future developments in Southeast Asia, the time factor is important. We need time. Kuala Lumpur recognized this, so that the decision to extend our hands to Indochina took this into consideration — to give time to strengthen ourselves.

We do not know what you will do. It may be the sense of not being threatened by America would have an effect on those countries.

I tried to sketch my ideas. What do you think?

Kissinger: I appreciate your lucid exposition. Let me respond briefly. The philosophy you have outlined can find substantial support in the United States. Events in Indochina have shown that the United States cannot do things for others and that governments must develop their own support.

The principles you have suggested regarding Thailand will find our support.

Your attitude on the role of Indonesia is the same as what we have always affirmed, and we are prepared to cooperate.

The suggestion that the United States should work with others and not be the principal issue is in accord with American domestic attitudes and with our international role.

[Page 6]

The question is how to make this concrete. There are a number of specific issues.

We will not try to keep bases when they are not wanted. In Thailand, the presence of U.S. bases may become more and more problematic. But, nations have to understand that it is very difficult for the United States to withdraw from our bases when continuing a security relationship.

We will not make an issue of keeping the bases. But it will have an effect. In Thailand this is more understandable. Even in the Philippines, we will go in the direction that you have outlined. With respect to the Indochina states, I have negotiated with the North Vietnamese for 15 years. I have few illusions about their purpose. You say you have to gain time, I agree with that. We have no objections to ASEAN relations with Indochina. But you should have no illusions. North Vietnam does not expand because it is threatened but on the basis of healthy desires of its own.

Our press used to say the Le Duc Tho was toughest in negotiations when we were doing the nastiest things. But the reverse was true. We must face the fact that North Vietnam will be expansionistic though it may change.

What will we do?

On aid, we have better uses for our aid program than the rehabilitation of Indochina. Political relations would have to improve before aid could develop. If there were a catastrophe or some humanitarian purpose, perhaps something could be arranged. But we think that those who gave them the aid to make a military conquest should also help them with other things.

There will, therefore, be no U.S. aid program for Indochina.

On diplomacy, we can be sure that my friends in Hanoi will conduct diplomacy that will be highly obnoxious to all their neighbors, including the Chinese and Malaysia, though perhaps Indonesia later.

North Vietnam will try to reintroduce us to the scene to trouble others. We may play along, for our own reasons. But we do not have to pay them.

There is no material antagonism between the United States and North Vietnam. We just want them to leave their neighbors alone. If they [Page 7] pursue moderate policies, we will cooperate. If they threaten, we will support our traditional friends. If they approach us, we will conduct ourselves accordingly so long as they do not conduct an aggressive policy.

I do not think we need to worry about missing some subtle signal. I have found that they can be very clear when they are ready to move.

We can survive without diplomatic relations with the DRV. We will not harass them, but we will not run to them. We will support our friends and we will hope that the policies you have described will work.

You outlined some ideas. We want to support you. The problem is how to do it concretely. The problem is how we can work together on economic and security issues.

Let me speak frankly. Many countries want to work with us. How do we prevent others from taking postures against us? This is also an issue we have to consider. We do not ask for support, but there is a limit beyond which constant confrontation cannot be carried without affecting the relationship.

We must keep in touch on this. We welcome your remarks on Australia and we will cooperate.

On the whole, we welcome your exposition and we feel there is a better basis for a long time peace in these ideas than when the U.S. was obliged to do everything. We think Indonesia will play a leading role. We want to work with you. The question is how to do it concretely.

Malik: I think once there is a broad agreement among us on cooperation we can find things. We must do our homework. We have to develop our own policies, discuss them with ASEAN and then we will discuss again with you on concrete matters.

Kissinger: You may do it with a certainty that we will want to be supportive.

Malik: We have experts here in the economic and military field; what do we do?

Kissinger: I thought that, perhaps, the experts might speak.

Widjojo: Please let me address some of these matters.

[Page 8]

If we want to develop concrete proposals, the best thing is to find out what is the most pressing problem. One of the key problems is to stabilize the prices of raw materials. This is a big issue. We were concerned at the lack of results in Paris last year.

As members of OPEC, we cannot leave the raw material problem separate from the problem of energy. We cannot just talk about energy and ignore other raw materials. We would just be talking of our problem but not of the concerns of the Malaysians or the Philippines. What we do must reflect the interests of our group as a whole.

Another important matter is the transfer of resources. We appreciate your problem regarding aid, but we would like to see the U.S. continue to play an important role in bringing about the mobilization of resources for Indonesia and Indochina.

There has been a disconcerting role of yours in the past in the IBRD. We were concerned that, because we are in OPEC, some blocks will be put in the flow of funds to us. We consider this a major source of funds for our development.

These are the things I would like to see.

Kissinger: Let me make an observation and then ask Mr. Cooper to state our views.

First, when you say that the issue is to relate the problems of the developing and the industrialized nations, this is the dominant issue — at this Special Session, at the General Assembly, and in Lima.

My general observation has to do with the conduct of the developing toward the undeveloped nations.

You state it as a common problem we have to deal with. This means that we have differences but that we can still talk.

The way Algeria states the problem is unacceptable. It leads to confrontation. We will have to organize ourselves. We will win, but all will lose.

We cannot deal with this by confrontation. We cannot be constantly confronted with manifestos that put us on the moral defensive and then ask us to cooperate.

[Page 9]

This does not, of course, apply to Indonesia, but I wanted you to have our views.

Having said this in general, let me deal with the specifics. In this country, many oppose talking about raw materials. We are prepared to discuss raw materials in common with the problem of energy. Most of our economists do not think that price stabilization is the way to handle this.

We are working hard to see how we can cooperate. We will try to find some solution, if not price stabilization, which will respond to the fear of extreme price fluctuation.

Mr. Robinson has just come back from a trip. We do not exclude the relationship between raw materials and energy, but we are opposed to a monster conference which will just lead to abstract declarations. But we will try to cooperate. We hope a dialogue on a wider basis will emerge.

As for the difficulties you raise, the OPEC price escalation presents difficult problems for us. I have opposed legislative and administrative actions against the OPEC countries, especially when they are our friends. I think you will find that some of your difficulties will be eased in coming months.

Let me now ask Mr. Cooper to address our position.

Cooper: On raw materials, you have expressed our position very clearly.

With regard to development, it is now very hard to sustain soft loans in the U.S. Congress. Also, soft loans are limited in amounts.

We recognize the limitations in which you have to work. We recognize your massive needs, despite your oil.

How this is managed is a kind of operational problem. But there is no feeling in the U.S. Government that the World Bank and the ADB should not make a major effort to help Indonesia. I would be misleading you, however, if I were to tell you that the prospect for soft loans is very bright. With the pipeline that we have now built in, it is hard to explain to the U.S. Congress.

(At this point the meeting broke up as Presidents Ford and Suharto were moving to lunch.)

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Convenience Files, Box 21, Visit of President Suharto of Indonesia, July 5, 1975 (2). Secret; Exdis.
  2. Kissinger and Malik led a conversation about East Asia and economic issues.