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RFK Arrives in London

Jan. 24, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, faced with British skepticism about his efforts to mediate the Indonesian-Malaysian dispute, expressed confidence today in Indonesian President Sukarno’s good faith. Mr. Kennedy said on his arrival in London from the Far East that he though Sukarno and the Indonesians would like to settle the dispute and reach an understanding with Malaysia and the Philippines. At President Johnson’s request, Mr. Kennedy visited the three countries in the last week. A cease-fire in the border war was announced by Sukarno in Jakarta yesterday, but a few hours later, after Mr. Kennedy had left, the Indonesian leader said the “confrontation” to “crush Malaysia” must continue, though “tactics may change.” Nevertheless, Mr. Kennedy said today at an airport news conference that an agreement was still possible and that he thought Sukarno was “genuinely willing” to try to resolve the dispute. “I never assumed, nor did I say, that President Sukarno had given up his opposition to Malaysia,” the Attorney General declared. “But I hope that his position will be modified through conference and discussion. If he had given up his opposition, there would never have been the necessity for a conference. What he has given up is military confrontation and military activities against Malaysia while this conference is going on.”

The British hope that Mr. Kennedy’s assessment of the prospects for accord is correct, but they fear he is wrong. Until the Attorney General has had a chance to explain to the British Government exactly what went on at his recent meeting with Sukarno, officials are withholding public comment. Mr. Kennedy’s main conference will be with the British Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, and other ministers at lunch Sunday at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country house.

Mr. Kennedy expects to remain in London until Tuesday. Tomorrow, he plans to visit the grave of his sister Kathleen, who was married to the Marquess of Hartington, brother of the present Duke of Devonshire. She died in a plane crash on May 13, 1948. Her husband was killed in action on September 9, 1944. Before he spoke about his mission to the Far East, the Attorney General expressed his family’s thanks for the sympathy expressed by the British people on the assassination of President Kennedy.


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