416 Kirby to Burton

Cablegram unnumbered BATAVIA, 12 November 1947, 6.10 p.m.


This telegram entirely personal to you alone, unless you care to pass on to the Prime Minister, and Minister.

2. In Australia, it was impossible for me to ascertain from Graham and Van Zeeland their predispositions (if any) to possible or probable bases of settlement and naturally, the three of us were each wary of committing ourselves too early in case the support of one or the other might be lost.

3. United States State Department representatives on Graham's staff obviously had his ear and at first their attitude seemed to me one of excessive caution both on procedure and thoughts of possible bases of settlement let alone outright discussions thereon. However discussions with Graham and Scott separately on the journey here, and soon after arrival made me quite confident that (a) United States idea of real settlement was based on completely independent and sovereign republic by January 1949 over Java, Sumatra and Madura on the one hand, and on the other hand, continuance of economic property and trading rights of the Dutch by long-term treaty and over all, some sort of United Nations supervision which could be 'sold' to each party owing to the distrust expressed by each party of the other.

(b) United States caution on procedural matters was based on the view that Security Council jurisdiction was only secure with regard to action based on the prevention of actual hostilities and here they privately informed me United States was determined that if the Dutch committed a breach, the United States would invoke the Security Council to impose sanctions or even more severe measures, under Article 40.

4. In return for privately expressed determination by the United States to follow para 3(a) and 3(b) of this telegram and follow me at the appropriate time on auxiliary matters and in general completely co-operate with me on the main settlement, I agreed privately to use every, endeavour to obtain from both parties invitation for the Committee to make actual suggestions on (a) meeting place, (b) procedural matters or methods of adjustment, (c) probable bases or terms of settlement.

5. Although I do not entirely accept the United States contention that the Committee cannot make suggestions on these three matters in the absence of invitation from both parties I thought it best to work in wholehearted co-operation with the United States plan for two reasons: (1) my confidence that their ideas on sovereignty and independence coincide with mine and (2) that Graham would not make any suggestions as to terms of settlement in the absence of expressed invitation from both parties except possibly after protracted and futile discussions between the parties.

6. The result has been that Graham and I together with respective staffs are now co-operating both in ultimate aim and methods of achieving it. Caution of course is exercised and I do not think Van Zeeland suspects this. For your information the latter is, I sometimes think, capable of being persuaded to agree with us if approach is not made until the time of perfection and in the meantime if, a big if, he be persuaded that his original conception of the Republicans as brigands and political irresponsibles is wrong.

7. Previous telegrams [1] show that the Republic (after private and personal interviews by me with the Prime Minister Setiadjit and other leaders) invited the Committee in writing at formal meetings to make suggestions on the three matters mentioned in para.4 of this telegram. This was in Jogjakarta on our second visit when the Republic agreed to co-operate fully with Committee on implementation of Security Council resolutions.

8. After the Republicans had given invitation to the Committee and promised such co-operation Van Zeeland expressed to Graham and self the hope that the Dutch would act in the same way and himself suggested he 'lobby' them to this purpose. Meanwhile Eaton and others reported to me private conversations with Van Vredenburch [2] where he said the Dutch would not withdraw 'one single troop' under the November 1st resolution and would not agree to have any discussions on substantive matters with the Republic or the Committee. Van Zeeland had discussions with the Dutch which he reported to Graham and self as inconclusive.

9. On November 6th, the Committee had a formal meeting with the Dutch at which proceedings opened with statements that the Dutch would not commence substantive discussions with the Republicans through the Committee and that they were not bound by and would not comply with the cease fire resolutions. Although these statements were made 'off the record' a complete break-down appeared inevitable. In the course of long discussions with the Dutch and the Committee I said that the Dutch would have to take full responsibility for such decisions and for my part I would urge the Committee to report at once to the Security Council if such decisions were communicated formally and also the fact that the Republic had already given full co-operation and promised the same in future. This meeting adjourned after midnight and was followed by a meeting of the Committee in which the first real dispute occurred between Van Zeeland on the one hand and Graham and self on the other hand. Van Zeeland complained that Graham and I had been unfair to the Dutch and were trying to force them into an attitude of non-co-operation. The meeting adjourned in the early hours and resumed after breakfast when document [was] drawn up setting out the Committee's views of obligations under the cease fire resolutions and on substantive discussions (see my following telegram). [3]

10. Formal meeting with the Dutch followed informal discussions between the Committee and Vredenburch in which I repeated that if Dutch refused to co-operate on the cease fire or substantive discussions the Committee would immediately report back to the Security Council. At both informal and formal meetings Vredenburch agreed as in paragraph 2 my telegram 300. [4]

11. As previously reported, Republic has appointed Committee to meet Dutch under the resolution of November 1st under assurances our Committee [5] and the Dutch have agreed to appoint similar Committee on November 10th. [6]

12. Committee brought back Hadji Salim, Setiadjit and Leimena from Jogjakarta to meet the Dutch informally in an endeavour to break down the hostile atmosphere before the talks commence but first meeting only very partially successful.

13. This lack of success due to Vredenburch bringing along two Indonesians with him a development [7] which is obvious part of the plan to impress the Committee and the world that the Dutch have the confidence of non-extremist Indonesians. This bluffs or [at] any rate pleases Zeeland but merely infuriates Graham.

However, the main Dutch plan is obvious to strain every resource to persuade us that the Republicans lack real support here. Graham and I agree that the Dutch are obviously going to endeavour to repudiate their recognition of de facto control by the Republic of Sumatra, Java and Madura and Graham strongly disapproves such tactics. However, at present the Dutch opinion of Graham and self is, I think, we are trying our best to reach impartial decision and we have both agreed to foster that impression.

14. The Committee met the Consular Commission on November [7]th, when it was arranged that military observers would report on the plan to implement observance of the cease fire resolutions. [8] This report is now under consideration but although unanimous, contains suggestions very disadvantageous to the Republic [9], and there is very decided difference of opinion on it in our Committee. Van Zeeland and I are opponents and Graham will I hope support me. Time and staff and stenographic shortage do not permit me of fully informing on this dispute now, but it does, I think, indicate that Van Zeeland will try and dispute the 1st November resolution requiring the Dutch to move back troops to lines of 4th August. [10] Graham will support me on this but for a number of reasons neither Graham nor I desire a 'show down' on this yet.

15. Time at present is being fully occupied by meetings of the Committee with Consular Commission, informal representations of both sides and a good deal of 'lobbying'.

16. In my opinion the only possible early conclusion of this work could be caused by the complete breakdown of negotiations which would not help the Republic or chances of political settlement unless breakdown was caused by the Dutch in a blameworthy manner.

Rest assured that Graham and self will act immediately on such contingency by reporting to the Security Council.

17. Reference your telegram 332 [11], I say in a most friendly way that it is hard to believe that you considered the contents and implications. We are on the spot and are working at the highest pressure with full knowledge all complaints submitted to us by either party. The Republic has not mentioned the subject of your telegram to us in spite of the fact that we are seeing their representatives daily and have left Brookes and Ogburn in Jogjakarta as our contact with the Government there with communication with us available twice daily. In those circumstances, I can hardly suggest to the Committee that we take notice of radio statements or complaints when the matter not reported to us.

18. Further, the present position of Dutch troops means really that most hostilities are by Republic[an]s behind Dutch lines and the Dutch are just boiling to have us commence investigations of alleged breaches of the cease fire resolutions which we are persistently avoiding both because of the time element and overall strategy.

19. On this subject the Security Council resolution [12] far from assisting us is most hampering to our real task. Although we will pass the matter of practical implementation over to the Consular Commission and military observers as agents [as] soon as possible we cannot do so now because in my opinion they entirely misconceive the position and could do real and permanent harm [to] the Republic unless supervised carefully. This is annoying and delaying but nevertheless true. of course Eaton is co-operating with me very well and is eminently satisfactory in every way.

20. Time does not permit passing on to you every problem and every aspect of the situation but I still feel as in Australia that a report to the Security Council on the Committee's views on the best bases of settlement is most desirable. Further it looks now as if I have managed to change from an almost certain minority into part majority. Nevertheless I must so act as to keep in majority and we can only report when the situation allows us to do so.

21. As an example of Dutch tactics East Indonesia has invited us to see conditions there. Van Zeeland wants the Committee to accept but I oppose. Graham wants to accept 'to give an air of complete impartiality'. I am endeavouring to arrange a complete tour of Sumatra, Java and Madura by the Committee but am delaying until the Republic can furnish names of people in Dutch occupied territory who can without personal danger to themselves give us authoritative information. More of this later.

22. Must also mention that if the present lines remain the Dutch have control of plantations which will give them economic plunder and I am desperately trying to prevent this yet am really frightened they will use any cease fire troop movement to manoeuvre Republican troops into real error and thus imperil our whole plan.

23. I really feel I would like to return soon for discussions with you. Excuse could be the return of the special plane for maintenance and inspection and arrangement of my judicial duties.

Please telegraph reply on this aspect. Have had to communicate contents of this telegram but have fears on the security angle and have much more to discuss.

1 Documents 396 and 410.

2 See Document 406.

3 Document 417.

4 The reference should be to cablegram 397 (Document 410).

5 See Document 410.

6 On 12 November, the Committee of Good Offices appointed six representatives, two from the delegation of each member of the Committee, to assist the Dutch and Republican cease-fire committees (formally titled the 'Special Committees' and also known as the 'Technical Committees') to implement the Security Council resolution of 1 November. Australia was represented by Brookes and Campbell. The Special Committees held their first meeting in Batavia on 14 November electing a civilian representative of the United States Delegation, G. A. Abbey, as permanent Chairman.

7 A sign here indicates 'probable meaning of mutilated group'.

8 See Document 414.

9 See Document 414, note 2.

10 See Documents 402 and 404.

11 Document 408.

12 i.e. the resolution of 1 November (see Document 402).

[AA:A3195, 1947, 1.22185/252/174/75/256/48/57]