24 Moodie to Burton

Cablegram 191 NEW DELHI, 7 April 1947

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Further to my telegram 190 [1], I had half hour's private interview with Sjahrir on afternoon 5th April and delivered message on lines you indicated. Sjahrir listened quietly and intently and at end expressed instant appreciation of our proposals, which we then discussed in detail. His comments may be summarised:-

1. Exchange of representatives good idea. Some time ago, before Macmahon Ball left, Indonesian Government had mooted idea and its attitude still the same. Question as to whether representation should be by Minister, Consul-General or in some other form could be settled. The sooner action taken the better. Sjahrir accepted without demur suggestion that Australian Government would wish to exchange before countries with less direct interests.

With reference to his statement of 31st March regarding representation in Australia [2], Sjahrir said he did not accept Netherlands contention that this was precluded by Agreement. Fact of Agreement constituted recognition of Republic by Dutch. Dutch opposition arose primarily from fears that Indonesian representation in and direct contact with other countries would jeopardise Dutch commercial and financial predominance in Indonesia.

2. Sjahrir warmly endorsed proposal for approach by Ballard, supported shortly by delegation of expert officials and said-'it would be a beautiful thing'. He would welcome wide range of topics to be explored and mentioned shipping as crux of Indonesian problems. Referred to Australian shipbuilding and expressed hope we could assist. He considered arrival of delegation in about lo days suitable. Sjahrir himself would leave New Delhi morning 7th April returning to Indonesia by 10th April.

3. Regarding Netherlands-Indonesian Agreement Sjahrir seemed hopeful although Dutch would endeavour to drive hard bargain on commercial and economic matters. Clause 17 provided for arbitration and good offices of Australian Government in this connection would be welcome.

4. Sjahrir will await formal approach by Ballard but assured me it would have his blessing and he would tell his Government so forthwith. As for travel arrangements he said 'You should simply tell the Dutch you are going'.

5. I stressed several times the highly confidential nature of this matter and Sjahrir agreed that all publicity must be avoided at present. He would probably like simultaneous announcement in Australia and Indonesia when time is ripe.

Throughout interview Sjahrir most friendly and seemed utterly sincere in his appreciation and willingness to receive delegation.

1 Dispatched on 5 April, it advised that Moodie would arrange to see Sjahrir at the earliest opportunity, but that there could be difficulty in arranging a meeting without attracting notice.

2 In an interview given at Batavia, in fact on 30 March, Sjahrir stated that he wished to send an Indonesian's 'special commissioner' to Australia as soon as the Australian Government was agreeable. He added that the commissioner could be a member of his Cabinet and that the Dutch authorities would be informed before an appointment was made.

[AA:A5009/2, A7/3/13, i]