13 Note for File by Kelly

CANBERRA, 19 March 1947

CHERIBON AGREEMENT NEGOTIATIONS

I have received word that the Dutch Government has at last authorised the Netherlands Commission-General in the Indies to sign the Cheribon Agreement. [1] Hitherto, the Dutch have insisted that their interpretation of the agreement should be accepted by the Indonesians. Without agreeing to be bound by this unilateral Dutch interpretation, the Indonesians have been prepared to 'note' its existence. I assume that the Dutch have accepted this new position and that without further ado both Dutch and Indonesians will sign the Cheribon Agreement. The Indonesians were ready to sign last week but the recent occupation by the Dutch of Modjokerto, outside Sourabaya, is not calculated to win for them the goodwill of the Indonesian people.

I am aware that both parties to the dispute in Indonesia have had occasion to complain of alleged violations of the military truce and of departures from the established perimeters. However, the Dutch occupation of Modjokerto seems to me, whatever its justification, to have been an extremely impolit[ic] act at this stage of the negotiations for the acceptance of the Cheribon Agreement.

This draft agreement, even if accepted, leaves many questions unresolved. The Dutch and Indonesians are not the only parties affected by the trouble in the Indies. The outside world desires to trade with these islands but is at present prevented from doing so by the effective blockade of Indonesian ports maintained by the Dutch Navy. If the Dutch do not relax these measures of export control, they may well find that other countries will have no choice but to grant a measure of recognition to the Republic of Indonesia and to frame their trading policies accordingly.

1 Reported by Ballard on 17 March.

[AA:A1838/283, 403/3/1/1, iv]