8 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 263 CANBERRA, 3 July 1946, 5.10 p.m.


Your telegram No. 236. [1] Netherlands Indies.

Thank you for your preliminary views regarding possible reference of the Indonesian issue to U.N.O. We are fully seized of the difficulties which might result from adoption of such a course and of the desirability for consultation. It was for this reason that we thought you should be advised informally of Sjahrir's very indirect sounding as to the Australian attitude by means of a letter addressed to Mr. Brookes personally. [2]

2. As we see the problem it is essential that every effort should be made to ensure that both Dutch and Indonesians bring their present negotiations to an early and successful conclusion. The dangers of further delay are so clear, particularly in view of the withdrawal of British forces from Netherlands East Indies during the next few months, that we feel neither side should be encouraged to think that adoption of an intransigent attitude will further its own special interests.

3. As regards the Dutch, we feel that everything possible should be done to make them recognise that Nationalist aspirations in Indonesia are real and strong and that the Indonesians should be met more than half way. The consequences of a failure of the negotiations should be pointed out clearly. One of these consequences is we believe the probability that the Indonesian issue would be brought before the United Nations in some way or other. In this connection we understand that Soekarno and others are inclined to request India to raise the matter in U.N.O. Again we are informed that China has already given some consideration to the possibility of bringing the matter before U.N.O. or of submission of the Indonesian question for mediation to a small group of countries such as United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Nor is it inconceivable that some other member of the United Nations, whose interests in the Netherlands East Indies are not so direct, might raise the question in the Security Council.

The possibility of U.N.O.'s jurisdiction being invoked is therefore not limited to action by Australia.

4. As regards the Indonesians, we feel that if they were encouraged at the present stage to believe that Australia or some other country would certainly take up and argue their case before U.N.O., they might be less disposed to bring the current negotiations to a successful conclusion. For this reason we had already taken steps to let it be known to Sjahrir informally that it is very unlikely that Australia would find it possible to bring the Indonesian question before U.N.O., particularly at present when the Security Council has run into difficulties over Persia and Spain.

5. As regards the suggestion made in the last sentence of paragraph 5 of your telegram under reference, we do not feel that it would be wise for the British Minister at Hague or for our own Minister there to inform the Dutch specifically of Sjahrir's letter. If such information were made public by the Dutch or conveyed to Sjahrir by other means, it would be embarrassing to us. At the same time there has been reference in the press and over the radio in Batavia and elsewhere to the possibility that Australia might be asked by the Indonesians to raise the Indonesian question before U.N.O. We feel that reference could well be made to these reports and that a hint might even be given that the reports should not be regarded as idle gossip. At the same time, possible action by India, China and other countries could be mentioned in order to impress upon the Dutch the very real likelihood that the Indonesian issue if not settled soon between parties will be brought to the United Nations. This might contribute towards persuading the Dutch to take the more realistic view of the situation in Indonesia to which you have referred.

1 Document 3.

2 Volume IX, Document 291.

[AA:A3317, 52/46, iii]