127. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Thailand and Indonesia1

113713. For Vice President’s party (attn Holbrooke/Oakley). Subject: Australia Message Asking Vice President To Discuss Boat Refugees with Indonesians. Ref: A. Canberra 3434 (Notal), B. State 112959 (Notal), C. State 113208 (Notal)2

1. Ref A carries message from Australian Foreign Minister Peacock to Vice President asking him to assure GOI at highest levels that U.S. will accept any boat refugees in Indonesia not accepted by Australia. Purpose is to reinforce previous Australian demarches to GOI to intercept boats transiting Indonesian waters headed to Australia. Australians hope this will help prevent boats from arriving directly in Australia which could turn public opinion there against GOA policy of accepting significant numbers of Indochinese from countries of temporary asylum.

2. Ref A apparently crossed Ref B which stated that, until new U.S. 25,000 parole program was authorized, it would not be useful for U.S. [Page 441] to make approaches along with Australians to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia to deter boats from leaving for Australia.

3. In light of Peacock’s urgent request to Vice President, however, Dept recommends that latter, if he wishes, raise point with GOI along following lines. Vice President could say that U.S. expects soonest to authorize new parole program for 25,000 and, once this is done, we would be prepared accept all boat refugees in Indonesia not accepted by Australia or third countries repeat or third countries and not inadmissible under INA.

4. Note that, as Peacock himself stated, Indonesians have not replied substantively to Australian demarches on intercepting boats and have in fact been providing them food and fuel. Thus, Vice President may wish to be cautious about requesting GOI to stop doing something which it is continuing to do despite Australian urgings to cease and desist.

5. In discussing U.S. 25,000 parole program, Vice President should be fully au courant with status, depending on follow-up to discussions mentioned Ref C.

6. If he has not already done so, Vice President may wish to make use in those discussions of following point in addition to those set forth Ref C. —Australia is very hopeful that U.S. will be able to move ahead soonest with new 25,000 U.S. program in order to assure countries of temporary asylum that we will help relieve them of rapidly increasing burden of boat refugees. This in turn should help persuade countries of temporary asylum not to push off boats to Australia. Direct arrivals in Australia seriously risk jeopardizing present Australian program of accepting from countries of temporary asylum Indochinese refugees at rate of 8,000 a year, which is very large in comparison to Australian population.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780191–0137. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Jere Broh-Kahn (HA/ORM); cleared in substance by Tice (P), Denend (NSC), Thomas Wajda (EA/ANP), and Frank C. Bennett (EA/RA); approved by Shepherd C. Lowman (HA/ORM). Sent for information Immediate to Canberra; sent for information to Kuala Lumpur, the UN Mission in Geneva, Paris, and Ottawa.
  2. Telegram 3434 from Canberra, May 4, transmitted a message from Australian Foreign Minister Peacock to Mondale. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780190–0194) Telegram 112959 to Canberra, May 3, clarified U.S. policy on approaching third countries with regard to refugees. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780189–0421) Telegram 113208 to Manila and Bangkok, May 3, addressed the new program for parole for Indochinese refugee. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780189–0633)