357 High Commission in New Delhi to Department of External Affairs

Memorandum NEW DELHI, 13 April 1949


Heads of missions representing those countries who attended the Asian Conference in New Delhi last January met at the Ministry of External Affairs this morning under the chairmanship of Mr. Nehru.

The Prime Minister of Burma (Thakin Nu), is here on a short visit and was present, but he took no part in the discussion. Sir Girja Bajpai assisted the Indian Prime Minister, and Mr. K.P.S. Menon and officials of the Ministry attended. The High Commissioner [1], accompanied by the Official Secretary [2], went along on behalf of Australia.

2. The meeting followed Bajpai's statement to us of 4th April, reported in our telegram 255 [3], that Mr. Nehru felt that the countries concerned should have an informal talk on Indonesia on April 16th before his departure for London. Subsequently, as reported in our telegram 261 [4], this was put back to April 13th.

3. On 5th April, Bajpai confirmed that discussion would be confined to Indonesia. He was not very precise about the agenda, merely saying that the Governments concerned might desire to send additional instructions to their representatives at the General Assembly. He also said that the meeting might perhaps examine the question of imposing sanctions if a solution through the United Nations should not be forthcoming. This we reported in our telegram 261.

4. A week later, on April 11th, Bajpai told us the meeting would discuss- (i) whether the Dutch should be denounced before the General Assembly in the event of no satisfactory treatment of the issue;

(ii) whether the Governments concerned should press the Security Council to adopt economic sanctions. (He remarked that such action as cutting off transit rights could be taken without reference to the Security Council.) As we have also reported, in our telegram 273 [5], he said there would be an informal exchange of views on Dr. Maramis's letter [6] of 29th March, which sought financial aid for the Republic from the countries who attended the Asian Conference.

5. On the evening of April 11, the Ministry of External Affairs sent us the accompanying 'Memorandum on Indonesia' [7] and last night the accompanying copy of a letter [8] to the Indian Government from the Acting Secretary-General of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry which is now located in Delhi. This document, like the Maramis letter, dealt with financial aid.

6. The third annexure, being a draft joint resolution of which we were given no notice before the meeting, confronted us when we entered the conference room this morning. This recited that the representatives present at the meeting represented to their Governments- (a) that, if no agreement should be reached in Batavia, the deliberate failure of the Dutch to give effect to the Security Council's resolution [9] of January 28th, should be condemned before the General Assembly.

(b) that each Government should actively examine a recommendation to the Security Council- (i) that economic sanctions be applied against the Dutch, (ii) that all transit facilities by land, sea or air be denied to the Dutch in or over its territory.

7. The agenda covering the draft resolution is attached as a fourth annexure. [10]

8. It is doubtful whether anyone had bargained for a resolution.

Certainly we had not. In bringing it forward, Nehru said that all the meeting could do was to tell the Governments concerned to express themselves with vigour. In saying this he obviously did not appreciate that while he was speaking as a Prime Minister on his home ground, others present were only agents. At this point, and after the Egyptian Ambassador had made a vague reference to the universal conscience of the world, Bajpai remarked that the Asian Conference had brought the matter before the Security Council, but that the Council had not achieved much. Hence the present discussion. Nehru then referred to the initiative of India and Australia in taking the matter to the General Assembly. He said that it was curious the way things happened before the Security Council. Speeches were delivered, and resolutions passed which were weaker than the speeches. Then efforts were made to tone down the resolutions. Then there were further resolutions, explaining the earlier ones away. It amounted to a progressive way of doing nothing. The position in Indonesia was deteriorating.

There was danger of complete chaos which neither the Dutch nor anyone else could control. The position concerned everybody.

9. Bajpai then read a telegram from the Indian Consul-General [11] in Batavia quoting Mr. Critchley as feeling that a settlement must be effected within a month in order to prevent complete disruption of the Republic by Communists. Critchley was also reported as saying that only the Republican forces could control the Communists and the Daro-l-Islam group; that the Dutch could not cope with them. The fear of increasing Communism was preoccupying the Republican leaders.

10. The Afghan and Iranian Ambassadors expressed themselves in various ways. The Iranian said his government had handed a note of protest to the Netherlands and read it out. It contained an expected reference to Muslim nationalism. He thought that the Assembly should go into the whole problem, and that Asian countries should support the Australian and Indian initiative.

11. Nehru thought that the present meeting should suggest to the Governments represented that they express to the General Assembly their disapproval of the Dutch action, and that they should press for the Security Council resolution of 28th January to be implemented. At this point, he read out Bajpai's draft resolution.

The Pakistan representative considered it did not go as far as the Asian Conference resolution. [12]

12. Apart from the phrasing of the first part of Bajpai's draft, about which we were not entirely satisfied, we saw no advantages in the second half which recommended that Governments represented should actively consider recommending to the Security Council that economic sanctions be applied.

13. The Australian representative explained that we had come to the meeting in the belief that it was merely to be an informal exchange of views. We were not prepared for a resolution and had no instructions with respect to it. Nehru said that the resolution was only a recommendation to Governments and would not be made public. Bajpai referred to the Asian Conference Resolution I paragraph (b) which appeared to us to have no direct relevance.

14. The Ceylon representative claimed that a resolution on economic sanctions had been deliberately dropped from the Asian Conference. Bajpai said that the present resolution was addressed not to the Security Council or to United Nations delegates but by representatives to their own Governments. Either one sat back or adopted some course of action. Again quoting his Consul-General at Batavia, he claimed that Mr. Critchley desired to press during the preliminary talks in Java for a procedure whereby the Republican Government could return to Djokjakarta; that if the Dutch did not agree, Critchley considered that the United Nations Commission should recommend to the Security Council the immediate application of sanctions.

15. The Ceylon representative said that since the draft resolution was not being made public or communicated to the Assembly there could be no objection to representatives recommending that their Governments consider it. The Government of Ceylon was profoundly dissatisfied with the impasse before the United Nations. He had been in touch with his Government and his instructions were that they would be prepared to go to the extent of denying facilities for the transit of Dutch troops and material. As regards sanctions, he would have to consult his Government again.

16. The Australian representative said at this stage that we would convey the views of the meeting to the Australian Government but repeated that, in the absence of instructions, he could not participate in the resolution. He was, however, in favour of the general feeling of those present which would likewise be reported.

17. Somebody then suggested splitting the resolution into two, the second part to deal with economic sanctions and transit facilities. Nehru thought it better to keep to one resolution.

This was done. In the result no vote was taken but nobody expressed dissent and the resolution was accepted in this way except for ourselves.

18. The question of financial aid was then dealt with, Maramis's letter being taken as a basis. Opening the discussion, Nehru said that 'we can't do much about it'. He said that Djojakarta had progressively deteriorated, and would be a liability rather than an asset. He considered that the Dutch should supply the facilities sought and that the United Nations ought to point this out.

19. The Australian view was now stated, and was well received.

Nehru asked whether any other representatives had any other ideas.

If they had, Maramis could be informed of them. There was no need for a resolution. Nevertheless the issue was an immediate one.

20. We pointed out that there were two or three stages, the question of a loan being long term. This was acknowledged.

21. The Egyptian representative thought that financial assistance should be a condition imposed by the Security Council which should require that when the Republican Government is restored, it be given all economic help to use its powers and functions as a Government.

22. Bajpai thought the Australian expose a helpful one. He showed much interest in the good[s] and textiles now stored in Batavia.

23. Nehru said that the important point was that the Dutch are primarily responsible for assistance. He appeared to regard the Australian views as satisfactory, and he suggested that each representative should elsewhere examine Maramis's letter in the light of them. He asked that a letter and a precis of the Australian views be circulated to the representatives present.

24. Bajpai thought that a loan was the responsibility of the major powers as well as those represented around the table. The needs of the Republican Government should be brought to the notice of the Security Council.

25. This finished discussion on economic aid. Nehru then brought forward a draft press communique attached as the fifth annexure [13] which to our mind was too expansive. After discussion it was agreed to cut it down and it was finalised in the form of the sixth annexure. [14]

26. Our estimate of the meeting as a whole is contained in our telegram No. 281 [15] of 13th April, which is repeated here as our seventh annexure.

27. A copy of this memorandum, without annexures except a copy of our telegram No. 281, is being sent to the Australian High Commissioners at Colombo and Karachi. Dr. Burton is being handed a copy with all the annexures at Calcutta.

1 H.R.P. Gollan.

2 J.C.G. Kevin.

3 Document 336.

4 Document 338.

5 Document 354.

6 See Document 344.

7 This undated memorandum provided a brief history of developments regarding Indonesia since January and recommended a study of the possibility of imposing sanctions on the Netherlands in the event of the failure to reach a settlement in Indonesia.

8 The letter from Tambu to Bajpai dated 11 April enclosed a memorandum on Indonesia and an estimate of the material requirements of a restored Republican Government in Djokjakarta.

9 Document 168.

10 Not published.

11 S.C. Alaggapan.

12 Document 144.

13 Not published.

14 See Document 361.

15 Document 360.

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