New Guinea: Settlement at Huntlands

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Over the roads near Middleburg, Va., a convoy of limousines daily moved into a lavish colonial estate called Huntlands, only three miles from President Kennedy's winter weekend spot, Glen Ora.* Shielded from prying eyes by a high, cream-colored brick wall, diplomats from The Netherlands and Indonesia met with U.S. Mediator Ellsworth Bunker, former U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Italy and India, to try to negotiate their dispute over the control of Netherlands New Guinea. Last week, after 4½ weary months, the negotiators shook hands on a deal.

Under its terms, The Netherlands will turn West Irian (as the Indonesians call Dutch New Guinea) over to U.N. stewardship until next May 1, at which time administrative control of the territory will pass to Indonesia. No later than 1969 (giving the Indonesians six years to establish their control) Indonesia will conduct a U.N.-supervised plebiscite in West Irian in which the colony's 700,000 Papuans will decide either on independence or final annexation by Indonesia.

The Huntlands agreement, still to be ratified by the Dutch and Indonesian governments, was succinctly described by a State Department official: "The Indonesians got Dutch New Guinea, which was inevitable, and the Dutch got off with most of their pride, which was not inevitable." Satisfied that they do not have to turn their former colony directly over to Indonesia and that provisions for an eventual plebiscite have been made, the Dutch are expected to accept. What Indonesia does is subject as always to the whim of its mercurial President Sukarno, who has been waging a nasty little paratroop war against the Dutch over the disputed territory. If Sukarno accepts the agreement, it means that he will have to back down from his longstanding boast that he would throw the Dutch out of western New Guinea by next Jan. I. Said an Indonesian diplomat to a Dutch newspaperman: "The big Bung [brother] will have to decide. If the Bung says 'Yes,' you are my good old Dutch friend; if the Bung says 'No,' you are my good old Dutch enemy."

* Huntlands was lent to the Government by its millionaire Texas owners, George and Herman Brown, who are friends of Vice President Lyndon Johnson.