483 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 1034 CANBERRA, 28 December 1948, 12.10 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your 1317. [1] Suggestion in paragraph 3 is clearly a backdown as you pointed out and we would oppose.

2. Reference paragraph 6. This retort reveals United States reluctance to do more than condemn Dutch. Australia has no effective influence but we have done all in our power:

(a) Government policy regarding ban on export of munitions has been observed throughout.

(b) Dutch have not been permitted to ship Dutch-owned munitions in Australia.

(c) Relief supplies have been held except for one shipload.

(d) No Dutch shipping bound for Indonesia is being handled by Seamen's Union.

3. United States has however equipped 130,000 troops in Indonesia and is still maintaining them by direct shipments of orders already placed and indirectly by continued aid to Netherlands. After all it is Hague which is defying Council.

4. We regret very much that the initiative in this matter has now passed to Ukraine and the Soviet. We held off on assurance of determination of United States to see this through, and supported United States more. [2] Now it is the Eastern group which has taken initiative.

The effect is that the work we have been doing in this area is seriously impaired. If United States even at this stage does not consider it can, by unilateral or United Nations action regain the initiative we will be obliged to reconsider our position as we cannot afford to allow the Soviet to exercise predominant influence in this area.

5. See immediately following from New Delhi indicating likely developments if initiative not regained. [3]

1 Document 478.

2 The word 'more' should presumably read 'move'.

3 Dispatched on 28 December, Cablegram 1035 conveyed the text of Document 463.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/3, ii]