447 Officer to Burton

Cablegram Hague 207 THE HAGUE, 2 December 1947, 6 p.m.


Reference your telegram 156. [1] I had already decided to discuss the situation informally with the head of the political section on the basis of your telegram 155 [2] and did so this morning.

2. I dealt with firstly the attitude of the Dutch in the N.E.I.

emphasising that my remarks were based on my inferences from reports from Batavia and elsewhere and my own observations and experiences in Batavia. [3] I took particular care to safeguard Kirby's position. I urged that if there was to be any hope of a successful issue, Van Mook, Spoor, and the like must co-operate and not stall and virtually oppose what was, I understand, the policy of the Government here. I pointed out that Van Zeeland's absence could not help giving the impression that the work of the Committee was being delayed.

3. Bentinck took note of what I said and confirmed my conjectures as to the Government's policy.

4. I then went on to Australia's position on the three power Commission and very strong reasons for the Commission continuing as at present constituted.

5. Bentinck expressed his personal opinion firstly that the Netherlands would in no way oppose Australia remaining a member.

Secondly that it might see its way to support the view that the Committee should not be changed. This point he would have to discuss with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and so far they had been hesitant to intervene in the Council's deliberations. Thirdly he did not think that they would be prepared to oppose actively a decision to reconstitute the Committee. [4]

6. As regards to paragraph 3 of your telegram 155, I have no doubt that the Government here desire[s] the Committee to succeed and does not encourage [delaying] [5] tactics. But the Dutch temperament is to favour slow careful progress and the Government believes, in my opinion without foundation, that one reason for the ultimate failure of both the Inverchapel and Killearn efforts was that they were concluded in haste. I am sure that they have welcomed recent hopeful signs (see my telegram 204 [6]) and would countenance nothing which threatened them. But I am equally sure that neither Van Mook, Spoor nor his entourage (or indeed any senior official at Batavia except Van Vredenburch) share this view. I believe that this situation is known here and that the visit of Neher, a member of the Cabinet, may be connected with it.

for a settlement [8], and hope for results.

7. As regards the position of the Committee I suggest full and frank discussion with the Netherlands Representative on the United Nations and that for the time being no step be taken regarding raising the matter in the Council. A further debate there would be likely to put the clock back by losing some of the very substantial support here for the present procedure, and may prejudice whatever action Neher's visit has in view.

8. I shall raise the matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Bentinck has had ample time to discuss it. Meanwhile I would hope to have reports as to views at New York.

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

1 Document 444.

2 Dispatched on 28 November, it conveyed the text of Document 442.

3 Officer had visited Batavia while serving as Australian Political Representative to South East Asia in February April 1946.

4 On 7 December, Officer reported that the Netherlands Government had decided that it had no objection to an Australian member continuing on the Committee of Good Offices, but it would not openly propose that Australia remain on the Committee 'since Australia was nominated by the Republic who might become suspicious if the Netherlands now supported their membership'.

5 A sign here indicates 'word omitted'.

6 Dispatched on 27 November, it reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was encouraged by the progress of the work of the Committee of Good Offices and that early agreement on the first stage of a cease-fire arrangement was anticipated.

7 The Minister for Public Works and Reconstruction left The Hague for Batavia on 2 December.

8 A sign here indicates 'mutilated'.

[7] I will keep on urging here the possibility of and urgent need