178 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 284 CANBERRA, 17 June 1948, 11.15 a.m.


Your UN527. [1] Indonesia.

1. Van Kleffens' appeal to Council to leave both parties and Committee to negotiate and not to distract them by discussions at Lake Success is of course in line with Netherlands plans and appears to represent an important point in their strategy at the present time. Reports from Batavia suggest that they are now trying to ignore the Good Offices Committee and delay all negotiations with and through it, and meanwhile to carry on direct and private discussions with the Republic.

2. Little objection could be offered to this if there were any prospect that the Dutch would show themselves prepared to consider the Republican desires in a reasonable spirit. All evidence suggests, however, that their purpose is to force the Republic to accept Netherlands conditions as they stand while holding over them the possible threat of another police action. This last possibility is giving the Republicans some concern but as they do not appear to be weakening in their resolve to join the United States of Indonesia on something like their own terms, there is still no prospect of an early settlement.

3. It was with the object of short-circuiting outstanding points of difference between the parties, notably in relation to the plebiscite, and thereby clearing the way for the early establishment of the Federation that the Australian and United States members of the Committee drew up series of proposals to be handed to both parties. Since the Belgian member of the Committee would not agree to the presentation of proposals as being outside the function of the Committee, the Australian-United States plan [2] was presented informally to both parties as working paper. The Republican Delegation has unofficially accepted the plan in principle, but the Dutch have now replied that they cannot 'see their way to take the paper into consideration', and have again insisted that neither the Committee nor individual members of the Committee should make pronouncements except at the request of both parties.

4. If this represents a firm Dutch refusal to accept or even to consider the Australian-United States working paper, we shall expect that full report will be made to the Security Council by Australian and United States members jointly, even if Belgian member objects. Such report taken in conjunction with Committee's previous reports, should serve to show that there can be little prospect of satisfactory solution in Indonesia until the Good Offices Committee has authority to make positive proposals to both parties and if necessary publish them.

5. The foregoing is mainly for your background information. As we do not know what recent information from the Committee the Council will have before it at Thursday's meeting, it may be premature to refer in specific terms to the Dutch rejection of Australian- United States proposals. You should, however, take advantage of any suitable opening to reiterate in general terms our concern at slow progress of negotiations, our fears regarding Dutch tactics, and our belief that Council should increase the Committee's authority. Above all you should resist any move to adjourn discussions indefinitely.

6. It is most important to keep in touch with United States representative because of their recent actions in Committee of Good Offices. It would appear that State Department is getting tired of Dutch tactics and you should take full advantage of this and if possible act together.

1 Document 174.

2 Document 173.

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