353 Bruce to Evatt

Cablegram N42 LONDON, 18 December 1943, 5.45 p.m.

MOST SECRET

Owing to van Kleffens [1] being down with flu it has been impossible for me to have a personal talk with him. To-day the matter has further developed in that the Netherlands Ambassador [2], who is acting for van Kleffens, has conveyed to me officially the information that the Netherlands Minister in Australia [3] has been instructed to approach the Australian Government down the following lines.

It is intended as soon as possible again to organise the Netherlands Indian Government with a view to mak[ing] the necessary preparations for the re-establishment of Netherlands authority in the Netherlands Indies. Likewise, preparations have to be made regarding the providing of personnel for the administration during the first or military phase and to prepare the organisation which will, in fact, be able to resume the Netherlands Administration in the Netherlands Indies.

As important units of this organisation are already in Australia and as moreover preference has been given to Australia as organising basis over India or Ceylon, Minister van Mock will shortly leave for Australia via United States of America, where he will take up contacts with Australian Government in co-operation with you. The reinstatement of the Netherlands-Indian Government will not be effected before this contact shall have taken place and the necessary arrangements have been made with you and with the Australian Government.

In view of van Kleffens' illness and the fact that the Netherlands Minister has now been instructed to approach the Australian Government it appears that the matter will have to be handled at your end. [4]

For your own information-I understand, although I cannot guarantee my information is correct, that the intention is that van Mook should make a short preliminary visit to Australia and return here after initiating the arrangements with the Australian Government, his subsequent return to Australia being governed by the position in the Far East. [5] If this information is correct, it may facilitate an arrangement acceptable to you.

BRUCE

1 Netherlands Foreign Minister. See Document 349.

2 Jonkheer E. Michiels van Verduynen.

3 Baron F. C. van Aerssen.

4 Van Aerssen wrote to Curtin on 24 December advising him that van Mock was to visit Australia to discuss the establishment of a Netherlands Indies Government organisation with the Commonwealth Govt. On 31 December Evatt (on behalf of Curtin) replied that the Commonwealth Govt was ready to discuss the plan with van Mock, but emphasised that until the latter's arrival 'the Australian Government reserves its views on the principle of the establishment in this country of a Netherlands Indies Government organisation, which it wishes to consider in the light of more definite information'. Both letters are on file AA:A989, 43- 44/600/5/1/5.

5 On 20 December Bruce confirmed that van Mock would retain the position of Netherlands Minister for Colonies and that his visit to Australia would be of short duration. See cablegram N43 on the file cited in note 4.

[AA:A989, 43-44/600/5/1/5]