251 Department of External Affairs to Critchley and Hood

Cablegrams 34, 117 CANBERRA, 28 February 1949, 5.26 [p.m.]


1. It is not clear at this stage what the Dutch counter proposals [1] mean in terms of a just settlement or of Republican aims.

Clearly there has not been any immediate implementation of the Security Council's decisions, but equally clearly the Dutch have publicly gone out of their way to state that they are conforming with the Security Council's decisions. From a tactical point of view the important question is whether the Dutch attitude should be described as defiance or whether the counter proposal should be accepted under protest.

2. From the point of view of United Nations prestige and from any practical point of view it is not possible to maintain that the Dutch have defied the Security Council. Rather it should be argued that action by the Security Council, has been effective to the extent that the Dutch have declared willingness to negotiate a settlement and to hand over sovereignty at an earlier date.

3. Our present view is that the Republicans might be encouraged to enter into negotiations at The Hague provided that the Commission is present, that is all its members and not merely a representative, and provided also that the basis of discussion is, firstly, the Security Council resolution [2] itself and, insofar as this requires supplementing in detail, the Cochran plan [3] insofar this plan is not inconsistent with the Security Council's decision.

4. It will only be at this conference that a judgement can be made as to whether a counter proposal is in implementation of the Security Council resolution or is in defiance of it.

5. Our view would be therefore, that the Commission should report that the Dutch have failed to carry out the Security Council's decisions but have offered a conference. The Commission should indicate its willingness for the conference to be held provided it is held under the chairmanship or guidance of the Commission. The Security Council should be asked to await a further report from the Commissioner.

6. A resolution should be passed to this effect in New York but couched in such terms as to make it quite clear that while the Dutch have complied to some extent with the Security Council resolutions they have done this only after an inexcusable delay and in any case the compliance has not been complete. They should therefore call upon all parties, if possible, under the chairmanship of the Commission, to work out details of a settlement on the basis of the previous resolution.

7. It is to be noted that the Republican Government has not yet been re-constituted and before any Conference takes place clearly that Government which is invited to the Conference must be re- constituted and physically re-established in order that its representative will obtain support for whatever agreement is arrived at.

8. While organising a development along these lines at Batavia and New York Australia should not take any initiative or give apparent support but should keep to the policy of supporting the United Nations and taking whatever action is considered by the Security Council necessary in the present circumstances. A further conference of the New Delhi group or consideration of sanctions will, at this stage, in our view, achieve no useful purpose and both should await the report of the Commission after The Hague conference has taken place.

1 See Document 249.

2 Document 168.

3 See Document 237 and 238 in Volume XIII.

[AA : A1838, 854/10/4/3, iii b]