279 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 468 CANBERRA, 12 August 1947, 11.40 p.m.


Reference 1079 from Washington [1] reporting State Department is against mediation and arbitration, we have just learned of Dutch offer to meet Republican and other representatives at round table conference to work out United States of Indonesia. [2]

It would be unwise to oppose what might appear to be Dutch move to reach peaceful settlement even though Dutch proposals cannot reasonably be justified as fair and just. Best approach and one which also answers State Department is to point out necessity for Indonesian agreement with any proposals put forward they being one party to the dispute.

The suggestion that Dutch Government will invite some neutrals to observe cease fire (paragraph 3c Washington 1079) is ridiculous unless agreed to by Indonesia who no doubt will insist in taking part in the nomination of Neutral Governments.

We have shown up emptiness of American offer and forced Dutch to make conciliatory move. What is necessary now is to maintain Security Council decision, the authority and jurisdiction of the Council and point out Indonesian full rights as one party to determine peaceful means of settlement of dispute.

Your 747 [3] just received. This seems an empty resolution as compared with original move for arbitration. [4] You should therefore see how debate goes with a view to taking opportunity of putting forward previous proposals for arbitration by small group and also for group of observers. [5]

Your 746 [6] just received. It is too early for Sjahrir or ourselves to weaken under American pressure and absence of instruction from his Government can only be interpreted as implying no change in their policy which is insistence on arbitration. Delay for Foote's report cannot be justified.

Moreover Foote's failure to invite Australian representative equally concerned in this matter to accompany him to Djokjakarta means that American reports of Indonesian attitude have no validity based on confirmation by a third party.

Sjahrir will require encouragement at this stage and it would be unwise for us to move from position we have already adopted and which Indonesians have already accepted.

1 Document 275.

2 In a statement issued on 12 August, the Netherlands Government declared that it remained committed to the creation of la new Indonesia, a sovereign, democratic and federal state', and invited all states and population groups in the NEI to participate in the establishment of an interim federal government. Contending that the formation of such a government would not delay a permanent solution to the Indonesian question, the Netherlands Government also announced an intention to convene representatives of the various states and population groups in Indonesia for a round table conference to consult on 'the definite establishment of the new Indonesian political structure'. The Netherlands Government appealed to the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate and expressed the hope that the good offices offered by the United States would make an important contribution. Arbitration was rejected: 'From the circumstance that the chief aim is the reformation of the Indonesian political structure-and therefore not the ironing out of a difference-it follows that a solution can be promoted by good offices but not by arbitration between the Netherlands and the Republic.' 3 Document 277.

4 i.e. arbitration under Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement as proposed in the Australian draft resolution of 31 July (see Document 222).

5 See Documents 261 and 262.

6 Document 276.

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4, ii]