453 Kirby to Burton

Letter BATAVIA, 5 December 1947

I am taking the opportunity of the R.A.A.F. plane leaving for Sydney today to send you these hurriedly dictated notes on the situation here.

Apart from our success in getting our economic proposals through the Committee (see my reference telegrams [1]), the past week has been one of incredibly drawn-out and frustrating arguments over the interpretation and implementation of the November 1 Resolution, in which my patience with the Americans has been tested to its limits. I regret to say that I am losing much of the confidence I had earlier in the American delegation. [2] This maybe influenced by the fact that they have been preoccupied by the arrival of the ship and its obvious deficiencies. Be that as it may, the U.S. delegation in the last few days has been a divided delegation, with Graham appearing a seriously [sick and] [3] sickening man, with no well-directed train of thought.

Nevertheless, after four days of arguing, in which I found it extremely difficult to come to grips with the nebulous views of the other delegations, I succeeded on Wednesday in obtaining the Committee's approval of my plan for achieving a speedy and effective truce. A copy of the plan [S/AC.10 Conf 1/9] [4], . . .

. is attached.

You will see that the adoption of this plan gives the Committee the initiative for the first time in the implementation of the November 1 Resolution. If the parties refuse to accept the plan, the refusal could be referred to the Security Council. If the plan is accepted, it should be possible to decide the demilitarized zones and push the parties apart on the basis of rough and ready justice, which will preserve the life of the Republic, particularly when account is taken of paragraph 9, which provides for the resumption of commercial trade and intercourse. [5] If the continued existence of the Republic as a going concern could be assured, the Committee would at least have justified itself, irrespective of an early political settlement.

I also believe that decisions by the Representatives of the Committee under the plan will be taken by a majority decision, which will prevent delay. In discussions, it was agreed that a minority view would, as far as possible, merge itself with the majority, a line of argument which was accepted by Vanderstichelen, the Belgian Representative, who may in ordinary circumstances be expected to find his representatives in a minority. My original paragraph 6 of the plan involved acceptance in advance by the parties of any decisions reached by the Representatives of the Committee. But against an uncompromising opposition from the Americans on this point [6], I was forced to modify this paragraph so as to leave the question of acceptance open until the Representatives have made their proposals. [7] This compromise offers the possibility of further delay, which I shall do my best to avoid.

The above plan, as I see it, does away with the need for a definition of the November 1 Resolution. It was agreed by the Committee, however, that since the Republican Special Committee had specifically requested an interpretation, one should be given by the Committee to the parties. The last two days have therefore been spent in wrangling, with a deadlock in the Committee over the definition of 'not occupied'. Although on this issue the Belgians were in a minority, our position was greatly hampered by the confused and conflicting lines of argument adopted by the Americans [8], and by their insistence on a unanimous decision. I am well aware of the dangers of the Committee presenting two interpretations, but am also aware that at some stage the Committee will have to make majority decisions if it is to get anywhere, [but on revising this letter there is now argument that the Committee can only act unanimously-the whole position seems absurd.]

At an informal meeting with Graham and Vanderstichelen yesterday, I managed to get an agreement which, if maintained, will enable me to have the attached draft Resolution accepted. [9] I am by no means certain that this agreement can be maintained.

In my discussions in Committee, I have been considerably assisted by the absence of Van Zeeland. Vanderstichelen is essentially a lazy man, with no real interest in the problem. Although he only represents the Dutch point of view, and appears to take specific instructions from them, he can sometimes be talked into our way of thinking for the sake of peace and quiet. [10] We have heard from Van Zeeland that he will be back with us about the middle of the month.

We have had no talks on substantive matters as yet. Informally, I am not hopeful of the Americans in this regard. At the very best, they are likely to consider the Linggadjati Agreement as a starting point, their proposals possibly being on these lines:

(i) Informal talks with the parties to inform the Committee where the two parties stand in relation to each other.

(ii) Each party to be requested to submit to the Committee in writing a statement as to whether it would regard the Linggadjati Agreement as binding and in force, provided the other party made a similar undertaking. In the event of a negative reply, each party to show cause why it could not. Each party would reply without knowledge of the other party's reply, and the Committee would reserve the right to make both replies public.

(iii) In the event of an agreement, the Committee to invite the attention of the parties to Article 17, paragraph 2, which provides for arbitration in the event of any dispute. [11] It is assumed that the methods of solving disputes proposed in this Article should be employed in implementing the agreement, including interpretation of details.

This approach has advantages, but I also realise its serious disadvantages, which indeed you were careful to point out to me when I was in Canberra. I need hardly assure you that we shall do our best to find agreement on a more satisfactory basis of settlement.

It is expected that the first substantive talks will begin on the ship tomorrow, when I shall do my best as Chairman to have a satisfactory procedure adopted. [12] It would not be at all surprising, however, if some further delay occurred, as the ship now proves to be quite inadequate for quartering delegations. All but the five leaders of the delegations and the women, would be obliged to share a cramped dormitory. In effect, this would mean that nearly 50 people would be quartered together, without any privacy or storage space whatever. The Americans are suggesting that the ship be attached to the port of Batavia and that only a few people remain on board, the rest living ashore and going on board for meetings. It has been suggested that perhaps the Indonesians might be given first choice of the accommodation on the ship under this plan, although this would obviously be unsatisfactory from their point of view. We are proceeding on the assumption that the ship will go to sea as intended, notwithstanding the difficulties, and hope, not without some prospect of our hopes being fulfilled, that the Republic will insist on this.

I have been glad to have your comments and advice from time to time and have been well aware of the advantage of an early reference of the dispute back to the Security Council. As you know, however, such reference back would fail lamentably if it did not carry with it a case for the Security. Council adopting a firmer policy. Although we have sought it, we have failed to find such an opportunity as yet. [13]

With regard to your 16 personal telegram [14] re my return, the Consulate here are under the impression that notwithstanding the recent shipment there are still some Dutch owned trucks and goods in Australia. I should be glad if you would deny this, or give. me details by telegram. Trucks are particularly important to the Republic at present. We shall, of course, do our best to ensure that any renewal of the agreement between the N.E.I. and Republic [15] is retroactive-but this will certainly be difficult.

[Now find the plane is leaving earlier than intended leaving me no time to write on my suggested return but you will receive cable on this [16] before you get this. Anyhow will be seeing you very soon.]

1 Documents 433, 434, 440 and 446.

2 See Document 416.

3 Words in square brackets were added by Kirby by hand. All additions and annotations on the cited copy are in Kirby's handwriting.

4 Document 449.

5 An annotation at this point reads as follows: 'P.S. of course the economic clause here is the thing that may enable the Republic to live in spite of the delays & frustration's re the cease-fire.' 6 An annotation here reads as follows: 'Americans seem to hate anything that can be called "Arbitration".' 7 In a report to the Department of State on 6 December, Graham commented that Kirby's original proposal had been ruled out by the United States and Belgian Delegations on the grounds that the Netherlands would reject any proposal for arbitration. Graham suspected that the Australian Delegation wished to make such a rejection an issue in a report to the Security Council and he saw this as but one of several examples of an Australian desire to present an 'anti-Dutch case' to the Security Council before Australia's term on the Council (and possibly also on the Committee of Good Offices) expired. Also see Document 457.

8 An annotation at this point reads: 'The U.S. staff is permitted & even encouraged to present divided opinions at open meetings.' 9 An annotation here reads 'now cancelled as usual'. The draft resolution has not been located.

10 An annotation here reads: 'Now modified. I believe Vanderstichelen delays whilst he cables Van Z[eeland]-but of course this is only a guess.' 11 See Appendix I.

12 The first plenary meeting of the 'Renville Conference' between the Committee of Good Offices and the Delegations of the Governments of the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia did not take place until 8 December. The chairman of the first plenary meeting was R. Herremans, who had just arrived in Batavia to act as Belgian representative until the return of Van Zeeland.

13 An annotation at this point reads 'U.S. now seem to have quite receded from idea of reporting to Council'.

14 Document 448.

15 The Gani - Van Hoogstraten Agreement (see Appendix II).

16 Document 454.

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