129. Memorandum From Vice President Mondale to President Carter 1


  • Report on Visit to the Pacific

My visit to the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand produced a number of useful results, and flagged several issues requiring further attention by the Administration.

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Your letters to President Marcos,2 Prime Minister Kriangsak,3 President Suharto,4 Prime Minister Fraser 5 and Prime Minister Muldoon 6 were well received. Each leader welcomed your statement affirming that America would participate actively in the Pacific. Replies from President Marcos and Prime Minister Muldoon are at Tabs A and B.7 Intelligence reports subsequent to my talks with Suharto indicate that his doubts about your policies in the Pacific region have been removed. Accordingly, I believe the principal objective of this mission—effectively affirming the United States commitment to the Pacific—was realized.

The Philippines

In Manila, we took a step forward on the base negotiations by agreeing to a joint statement embodying the principles for these negotiations.8 These principles involve respect for Philippine sovereignty (of importance to Marcos) and full protection of command and control arrangements for U.S. facilities and personnel (essential to the United States). President Marcos and I did not get into detailed talks on the level of U.S. compensation. There are indications that Marcos is considering setting aside the difficult compensation and criminal jurisdiction issues to concentrate on the question of base arrangements. We agreed that military-to-military talks should begin as soon as possible. En route home, CINCPAC representatives were briefed in Hawaii. Admiral Weisner will meet next week with Marcos to ensure early initiation of the talks.

Marcos was concerned about the House International Relations Committee’s $5 million cut from the foreign assistance budget for the Philippines. I told him we would do our best to restore the full amount. The Senate Committee has now approved the full $18.1 million. I will work with Frank Moore and State to press for full restoration of the funds in Conference.

On human rights, my private talks were frank and Marcos’ reaction was calm.9 He has the message that our relations can only suffer if he continues on a repressive course. He indicated that a partial lifting of the martial law, with the exception of Mindanao, might soon be forthcoming. My talks with the Philippine opposition and Church lead[Page 448]ers were valuable.10 I told the former that we had made the visit because we felt it would have a favorable impact on human rights, and they subsequently endorsed the visit in a meeting with the press. Cardinal Sin described his role in the Philippines as one of “critical participation.” While he is deeply concerned about the future of the Philippines under Marcos, his underlying and twice-repeated message was “do not abandon us” over human rights differences; if you do, the Communists will take over. I have asked Under Secretary Newsom to draft a proposed letter for your signature to Marcos reflecting on the visit and dealing with both the base negotiations and human rights.11


General Kriangsak was pleased to receive your invitation to visit Washington in 1979.12 He accepted on the spot.

On security matters, he welcomed your statement of commitment to the region as well as your offer of a squadron of F–5 aircraft. He made no reference to insurgency problems; however, he stressed Thailand’s exposed position in Indochina, its need for more reliable arms supplies and his hope that we would make more equipment of interest to Thailand available on more favorable terms than currently provided by FMS. Without commitment on any specific item, I told him we would give careful attention to each Thai request. I will remind State and Defense of this point.

Our most pressing problem with the Thais is refugees. We must work harder and more effectively if we are to deal humanely with this tragedy of growing proportions. We must help Thailand, we must keep up pressure on other nations to accept refugees, we must expedite our own in-field processing and resettlement procedures in the United States and we must find ways to make the UN High Commissioner on Refugees a more useful and effective agent.

I have asked State to forward specific recommendations, and I will be contacting U.S. volunteer organizations to urge greater action.


I believe the visit to Jakarta has provided the foundation for a more positive US-Indonesian relationship. Suharto was pleased by your favorable decision on the A–4 Squadron;13 he and his staff understood the human rights linkage and the fact that we could not accept use of such aircraft in Timor. I stressed the hope that the 20,000 political [Page 449] detainees would be released before the current timetable of December, 1978 and December, 1979. Within 24 hours of my visit, the Indonesians officially confirmed to our Ambassador press reports that they were preparing to release an additional 5,000 before August, 1978.14 I have asked State to continue to press the Indonesians to agree to an International Red Cross and Catholic Relief Service presence in Timor.

While in Jakarta, I advised Suharto of your decision to make an additional 50,000 tons of PL–480 rice available. In Indonesia and in the Philippines I believe it is important that we study wider use of PL-480 Title III to stimulate greater food production. I will ask Agriculture and AID to follow up.

In Jakarta, as in Bangkok and the Philippines, I stressed U.S. interest in closer cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and our hopes for ministerial level consultations in Washington this August.15 There is still some reluctance in Thailand and Malaysia. I will ask State to continue to press the ASEAN nations for approval of this meeting.

Australia and New Zealand

Security and trade were the issues foremost on the minds of Prime Ministers Fraser and Muldoon.16 Both leaders worry about the Soviets in the Pacific. Both welcomed your decision, announced in Canberra, to hold a joint US-Australian ANZUS naval exercise in the Indian Ocean off western Australia.17

Both Australia and New Zealand are heavily dependent on their exports of beef and agricultural products. Both are bitter and frustrated over the policies of Japan and the European Community. Both insist that the MTN talks, if they are to be successful, must have a meaningful agricultural component. I agreed on this point, and I will follow up with Bob Strauss.

On bilateral trade both leaders stated concern over pending meat import legislation, particularly the Bentsen Bill.18 I told them that we do not favor such legislation. I will work with Frank Moore and Bob Bergland on this problem.

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Finally, in all five capitals, we reviewed domestic and international energy developments, and we identified areas for increased energy cooperation, with the emphasis on conservation and development of alternate energy sources. I will follow up with Jim Schlesinger to insure that these cooperative programs are implemented.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Donated Historical Material, Mondale Papers, Overseas Assignments—Trip Files, 1977–80, Box 19, Vice President’s Visit to the Pacific, 4/29/78–5/11/78: Post Trip Actions. Secret. Carter wrote at the top of the first page of the memorandum, “Fritz—Good—Have answers drafted to attached letters. J.”
  2. See Document 317.
  3. See Document 166.
  4. Carter’s letter to Suharto, April 27, is in the Carter Library, Donated Historical Materials, Mondale Papers, Overseas Assignments—Trip Files, 1977–80, Box 22, Vice President’s Visit to the Pacific, 4/29/78–5/11/78: Indonesia (5/6/78–5/7/78)—President’s Letter to Gen. Suharto.
  5. See Document 252.
  6. See Document 251.
  7. Not attached. Tab A is printed as Document 320. Tab B was not found.
  8. See footnote 2, Document 321.
  9. No record of these private talks has been found. See Document 322.
  10. See Documents 318 and 319.
  11. See Document 323.
  12. See Document 167.
  13. See Documents 206 and 207.
  14. In telegram 6074 from Jakarta, May 10, the Embassy confirmed this information. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780198–0132)
  15. Reference is to the second U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue held August 3–4. See Document 131.
  16. See Documents 254 and 255.
  17. See Document 254.
  18. Reference is to S. 2895 (95th Congress), the Beef Import Act, which Bentsen introduced on April 12.