79 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 22 CANBERRA, 14 January 1949


Your UN. 13. [1]


Further to our No. 19 [2], latest United States proposals appear to be reasonably satisfactory so far as they go, but in our view would be of little real value unless accompanied by specific proposals regarding terms for settlement of the fundamental dispute between the Dutch and the Republic.

As regards progressive withdrawal of Dutch forces, any decision should ensure that it is effected prior to elections. Past experience for example in Greece has shown futility of elections under occupation. In addition progressive withdrawal, with corresponding transfer of responsibility to the Republic, should commence as soon as possible and question of a specific time limit for its completion might be discussed with United States and Indian representatives. The main point is that the programme of withdrawal by stages must be determined and drawn up by the Good Offices Committee (or its successor), which must also police its implementation.

Withdrawal and subsequent elections will, however, not in themselves accomplish anything unless at the same time conditions for a settlement of the Netherlands-Republican dispute are also prescribed. There is no point in merely trying to bring about the return to the status quo in the hope that the parties can resume negotiations and reach a settlement. So far as we can see, United States proposals concentrate on the need for an election without specifying what powers and functions the elected body would wield.

Nor do proposals appear to offer solution to questions such as the use of armed forces and the powers of the Crown representative.

You should insist that any resolution should go the whole way and embrace terms of settlement which will do full justice to the Republican position. Failure to prescribe such conditions would leave matters virtually as they were before the police action.

There are other points which should be borne in mind:-

(1) Provision should be made for the observance of elections not by a small group but by a team large enough and with adequate facilities to ensure a general election.

(2) Care will be necessary on the question of garrison forces. The Dutch will doubtless argue that their military action is completed and that all forces at present in Indonesia are performing garrison duties. Dutch garrison or base forces should be permitted only in agreement with Republican authorities and only in regular military centres such as Batavia.

(3) It seems clear that powers and functions of the present Committee of Good Offices will have to be extended, and we agree, as indicated in our No. 7 [3], that consular Commission should lapse.

1 Document 72.

2 Document 76.

3 Document 24.

[AA : A1838, 401/3/1/1, vi]