27 Ballard to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 80 BATAVIA, 10 April 1947, 8.35 p.m.


Your telegram January 26th. My telegram 79. [1]

I have just seen Van Mook to whom I spoke on the lines of your paragraph 4. The acting head of the Foreign Office, Doctor Boon, was also present.

2. Van Mook listened in hostile silence to what I had to say. Then he asked what was the object of the discussions, to which I replied, the establishment of trade between Australia and Java. He said it was strange that the first approach should be made orally.

With reference to the meeting of Indonesian representatives he asked whether we proposed to do that through the Dutch, but without awaiting a reply went on to say that direct contacts with Indonesians 'gave them all sorts of ideas' and did a disservice to the interests of all concerned. I replied that we did not want to embarrass anybody but did want a movement of trade between Australia and Java to be established and hoped that the three parties concerned could arrange it between them.

3. He said such a mission as that proposed would be acceptable, and even welcome, when current Indonesian-Dutch discussions had reached a basis for trading but the present time was premature and most inappropriate. I said that I understood you would be applying to the Netherlands Legation for visas to travel next week and he exclaimed angrily 'you put me in the presence of a fait accompli'.

4. With reference to the absence of publicity he said that he agreed that no publicity was necessary but asked whether I had yet seen the Indonesians. I said that I had not but intended to do so.

He then said that when I did it would be in the papers the same night; that he had been their invariable experience.

5. He then returned to his objection to the arrival of the officials now and said that he would 'deplore it'. The other countries had held off and were holding off until a basis was reached. If an Australian Mission came now they would have to institute similar talks with the other countries and their own discussions with the Indonesians would be confused and thrown out of gear. He used the words 'chaos and confusion'.

6. Boon asked whether I would recommend that the arrival of the officials should be delayed. I said that I did not suppose that he expected a reply to that but that I should be certain to report Van Mook's views fully and immediately.

7. I asked Van Mook when he thought his own discussions would reach finality. He said that they had been held up by the absence of Sjahrir and Gani, but he thought in about three or four weeks but he could not be sure.

8. After leaving Van Mook I asked Boon how far he could help me in arranging accommodation and transport in the circumstances as I must proceed on the assumption of the arrival next week. It was obvious that nothing could be done tonight and I am to see him first thing tomorrow morning.

1 The reference to January 26th appears to be a cyphering error.

Dispatched on 10 April in response to Document 26, cablegram 79 advised that Van Mook was not immediately accessible and that Ballard hoped to obtain assistance regarding accommodation and transport from the Far Eastern Office of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/2, i]