6 Kirby to Burton

Cablegram K35 BATAVIA, 9 January 1948, 5.30 p.m.


The object of this and following telegrams K.36 and K.37 is to get the benefit of your own, the Minister's, and if you consider it desirable, the Prime Minister's opinon. Grateful if you could let me have these by to-morrow as I am returning to Djokjakarta early on Sunday for a specially convened meeting between the Committee Soekarno, Hatta (brought from Sumatra by the Dutch consent), Sjahrir (similarly brought from Singapore) and Cabinet. I will therefore be out of telegraphic communication from 6 a.m. Sunday.

2. Following their rejection of the Committee's Christmas proposal [1] t[he] Dutch have issued an ultimation on the threat of resuming 'liberty of action', that the Republic accept without delay the Dutch proposals for a truce on the understanding that the Dutch themselves will accept the twelve political principles as a starting point for immediately following political discussions.

3. These principles and the Dutch truce agreement are set out respectively in two following telegrams.

4. The Dutch have agreed to yield minor modifications of their own truce plan but by and large have rejected suggestions of the Republic and the Committee and indeed state that the Republic must accept or reject the plan and principles as they stand at Sunday conference.

5. Van Zeeland believes that if the Dutch proposals are accepted unconditionally [...] [2] one exception to this namely that the Dutch will add provision to the truce agreement that the Republic have three seats out of nine in the Cabinet of the Interim Government which was agreed to be immediately set up by the Conference between the Dutch and non Republic[an] States last Sunday.

6. It will be clear from attachments that the proposals of the Netherlands, although in accordance with United Nations principles, and although they appear reasonable, do not go as far as the present situation requires. A further examination of the Committee's Annex two will show the importance of the items the Netherlands have rejected of the Committee's proposals. in addition to refusing to consider the withdrawal of any of their Military forces they have completely rejected principles 2 and 3 of Annex 2. [3] It will also be noticed that paragraph 3 of the Netherlands principles is so worded that it would not be necessary to prevent continued unilateral formations of states within Java, Sumatra and Madura. [4] Even if the Republic were granted three seats in the Interim Government, it is difficult to see how this could be considered adequate particularly as there has been no clarification as yet of the Interim Government's powers and functions, nor how far the Interim Government will be under the direction of the Netherlands representative (Van Mook) or the Triumvirate (which will probably consist of Van Mook, Neher and Van Vredenburch). [5] Any settlement satisfactory to Indonesian freedom and Republican aspirations seems to me improbable while Van Vredenburch retains some initiative in the formulation of policy.

7. Van Zeeland is most anxious that the Republic accept the Netherlands ultimation which undoubtedly has the backing of the Prime Minister Beel and his Cabinet Ministers [6] who were visiting Indonesia recently. He has strongly advised the Republic to that effect and myself at an informal meeting. He has also agreed privately with Graham and myself that if the Republic accepts he will give a personal pledge to work with other Committee members to put pressure on both parties:

(a) To agree to have a United Nations agency observe conditions here from the time the Committee ceases its task until sovereignty is handed over;

(b) To ensure free legislation of the provisions of Annex 1, which is also included in Dutch proposals implemented;

(c) That the Dutch cease the formation of new states except by democratic process (see paragraph 6 of this telegram);

(d) To have more specific and full provisions regarding United Nations observation of demilitarised zones in the truce agreement;

(e) That once the Republic has accepted the cease-fire and publicly disowned sabotage, intimidation, etc. it cannot be held responsible for any incident occurring on the Dutch side of the Van Mook line. [7]

8. Graham has been on the fence but has been slowly turning towards advising the Republic to accept. [It] seems clear that his State Department advisers have been informing him that little hope can be placed in the Security Council to help the Republic. In the event of a Republican refusal I would expect Graham to support the greater part of my viewpoint, but in his present wobbly state it would be a mistake to pin overmuch faith in this.

9. I personally, have left it to the Republic to make their own decision but have leaned towards rejection by assisting them with a draft reply to be ready in that event. The reply would cover obvious points of the argument and would ask the Security Council to adopt one of two courses.

(a) To set out the terms, either military or political, or both, upon which hostilities should cease;

(b) To delegate to the Committee the power so to act.

10. I shall also suggest that they might express indignation and [8] (surprise at the recent developments; that whereas they compromised to accept the Christmas suggestions of the Committee without delay, without condition and without the ultimation of Dutch intimidation), they might therefore have expected that pressure would be placed on the Netherlands to accept but instead the Netherlands have not only refused to make any compromise at all but have submitted their own unilateral and inflexible suggestions as an ultimation and have gone to the extreme of suggesting it would [be] delinquent to even ask for time to consider this ultimation. However, there is a real risk that I might be the only member to support the Republic in this.

11. In the event of the Republic deciding to accept the Dutch proposals I would suggest to them that they do so in a strong[ly] worded letter to the Committee emphasising that acceptance had been forced upon them under greatest Military and economic duress.

This acceptance could then be used in Security Council debates in an endeavour to obtain as much as possible 12. Whether the Republic accept or reject the Dutch proposals, Van Zeeland considers that the three members of the Committee should fly to New York and report to the Security Council in person. They would be at liberty to express their personal views. I believe in view of Van Zeeland's intentions it is very important I should also be present at the discussions to express as strong[ly] as possible our point of view irrespective of the Republic reply.

Please advise if this is approved so that I can on Sunday inform the Republic.

13. It is apparent that Van Zeeland has his speech or speeches already prepared; in the event of Republic refusal he proposes to state that the Dutch military action has been justified in the light of Republic guerilla activities, he also states that the French have told him that they will use the Veto when they consider necessary, for example, if the Security Council instructs the Dutch to comply with a cease-fire order. However, I am sure that the Dutch will not immediately resort to military action but will state that they have retaken 'liberty of action' which would mean accepting no longer good offices of the Committee.

14. The decision before the Republic this weekend is a critical one. On present indications they will reject the ultimatum on the basis of my suggested reply and also on the following grounds- (a) The unsatisfactory nature of the proposals which, in the absence of confidence in the good intentions of the Dutch, offer them no real safeguards for the future.

(b) Possible difficulty of obtaining full support within the Republic for such wide concessions to Netherlands (this might be overcome).

(c) The strong feeling that an agreement on the cease-fire would seriously weaken the influence of the Security Council which in the present Republic opinion remains by far the strongest sanction on the Netherlands aggression in Indonesia. This course clearly puts the responsibility and hope of obtaining something better for the Republic on the Security Council. While I have taken the line that it would be futile for the Committee to consider the Security Council impotent, I also realise the danger of expecting too much.

15. As I personally have not the slightest idea whether Security Council will have the guts or even the desire to order the Dutch to withdraw to 4th August lines or impose political conditions on the present lines, I would welcome the advantage of your opinions as asked for in paragraph 1 before I leave for Djokjakarta on Sunday morning.

1 The text of the 'Christmas Message', including annexures 1 and 2, is given in United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Third Year, Special Supplement No.1, pp.49-53. See also Volume XI, Documents 488, 489 and 490.

2 A sign here indicates word or words 'mutilated'.

3 Principle 2 of Annexure 2 of the 'Christmas Message' suggested that both the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia cease to organise new States in Java, Sumatra and Madura until the signing of a political agreement by the two parties. Principle 3 suggested that, within three months of the signing of a political agreement, the civil administrations functioning on 20 July 1947 be restored and Netherlands forces withdrawn to the territories occupied by them on that date.

4 See Document 8, paragraph 3.

5 The Netherlands Government had decided that a three-man collegial body would take over some of the responsibilities of the Lieutenant Governor-General.

6 Beel, accompanied on his visit by the Minister for Social Affairs, W. Drees, and the Minister for Overseas Territories, J.

Jonkman, joined the Minister for Public Works and Reconstruction, L. Neher, already in the NEI (see Volume XI, Document 440).

7 The 'Van Mook Line', issued in a proclamation by Van Mook on 29 August 1947, delineated the boundaries of the territory which had been occupied by Dutch forces before the cease-fire at midnight 4/5 August 1947.

8 A sign here indicates 'portion in brackets as received'.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xiv]