49 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K59 BATAVIA, 10 February 1948, 3.15 a.m. Received 10

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your telegram 28. [1] Herremans has received a similar cable from Van Zeeland, and Scott a message from Marshall directing him to clear up the misunderstanding over Australian Military Assistants.

Herremans as Chairman of the Committee and I stressed the urgency of a decision with Vredenburch.

2. The Official Dutch reply was that they were still awaiting word from The Hague. Vredenburch hinted there would be a Cabinet meeting that same day Monday.

3. When pressed for more definite information Vredenburch admitted- (a) That provision for military observers on scale and in the proportion originally suggested by the Committee would have-been satisfactory. This provided the United States 15, Australia 15, Belgium 6, United Kingdom 10, France 10, China 10. Total 66. [2]

(b) That as one country (in private, France) had made it clear she would not increase her present number of three, and as Belgium was unlikely to increase her present number of four, the Committee's suggestion was no longer relevant.

(c) That the Dutch insisted on the proportion being maintained between various countries.

(d) That at the present stage they were agreeable to a total of 15 from United Kingdom and Australia combined.

4. Apart from its logical implications the argument of the Dutch 3(b) is not correct since, when making the suggestion, the Committee was aware that all countries would not supply the numbers suggested.

5. I also had the impression that the Australian offer would be more favourably regarded if the number of United States Military Assistants were in fact increased to 15. There is no word on this yet.

6. Possible courses are- (a) to press the Dutch at The Hague;

(b) to agree to send only three Officers now, the number to be increased if considered desirable by agreement for reduction in number of British Officers;

(c) to request the United States to increase her military representation to fifteen.

I would personally favour (a) and (c). (I shall cable separately today after discussing with Neylan the effect of reducing proposed Australian representation).

7. Unless specifically requested, I shall refrain from passing on the gist of your telegram 33 to the Dutch at this stage as I feel sure that it would be an inducement to them to continue to withhold consent. I appreciate of course that the return of the party to Melbourne will be necessary if permission is not obtained soon.

1 Dispatched on 8 February, it conveyed the text of Document 45.

2 Decided at the 64th meeting of the Committee of Good Offices on 20 January.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/2, iv]