429 Kirby to Burton

Cablegram 425 BATAVIA, 20 November 1947, 1.05 p.m.


Following is part two of my telegram. [1]

6. I must stress that the Dutch advance and mopping up ever since 4th August have overrun areas of economic importance and many plantations have thus fallen into their hands and are now yielding fruits to the Dutch. The result is that not only have the Republicans lost these assets but prominent Indonesians are being forced by subsistence needs to accept posts under the Dutch and civilian populations are being similarly won over to the Dutch.

7. All this, of course, stresses the need for early political settlement but I cannot see any chance of this and I am sure that the chance will be considerably less unless the Dutch are either forced to give up at once their territorial gains since August or brought before the Security Council for refusal to do so.

8. My present policy has the full and unqualified support of the Prime Minister and Setiadjit [as] the best strategy to safeguard the Indonesian position and facilitate the early overall political settlement. Lastly this telegram gives the text of questions and answers in my interview with the Prime Minister and Setiadjit in Critchley's presence. [2] This, of course, is extremely personal and secret. Please note the use of words from your telegram [3]49 [3], the contents of which were naturally not mentioned or disclosed.

9. Van Zeeland leaves for Belgium for alleged ten to fourteen days on Sunday and a Deputy is coming out to replace him. It looks to me as if this is going to be a long job unless we get a break on the withdrawal question or something unexpected turns up. If your prophecy to the Prime Minister as to the time is personally embarrassing you, for goodness sake let me know and I will endeavour to assist. [4] I still feel that at a time suitable, I should slip down and elaborate the position fully to you and him and receive the benefit of matters difficult to express in cables.

10. An urgent development here and the desire to keep Graham fully co-operating with me forced me to cancel the tour of Sumatra. [5]

11. Stenographic assistance has just arrived from Singapore to my relief as I find insufficient time to keep you fully informed under present conditions. The staff are all working excellently under very trying conditions, but there will be a few breakdowns if the present pressure continues. As this is being ciphered your telegram 351 [6] has been received. Appreciate contents and after consideration will cable you thereon.

(1) Question: Do you wish the 'cease fire' order not only to mean an immediate cease fire but also both sides should stand fast and cease any move of any kind until negotiations between the two parties determine subsequent moves? Answer: Although we want this immediately, it is certainly not satisfactory to us other than as a first step urgently to be taken to commence implementing the Security Council resolution of November 1st.

(2) Question: Do you think interpretation of the November 1st resolution unimportant at this stage if there is willingness on the part of both parties to conform with the spirit of the resolution and to co-operate with the Committee on finding terms for settlement? Answer: No. We think an interpretation necessary and urgent. It would only not be so if there were an immediate political settlement.

(3) Question: 1. Do you wish to have the November 1st resolution interpreted by the Committee in regard to movements of troops to be made by both parties; and 2. If so are you willing to say now that you will accept the interpretation even if it does not say that the Dutch are obliged to withdraw to their positions as at August 4th? Answer: 1. Yes.

2. We are convinced that the resolution does require the Dutch withdrawal to August 4th. Our attitude always has been and is that we accept all Security Council resolutions.

(4) Question: If you do wish the Committee to interpret the November 1st resolution and if the Committee interpreted the resolution as requiring the Dutch to withdraw to August 4th positions, would you then in order to create or preserve an 'atmosphere of tranquillity' be willing to accept a cease fire in the sense of a stand fast only without prejudice to a later insistence on a withdrawal by the Dutch if events require such a move? Answer: No. See previous answers. We want both parties to accept implicitly their obligations under the November 1st resolution.

[AA:A3195, 1947, 1.22812]

1 Part 1 is published as Document 424.

2 This meeting took place at Djokjakarta on 17 or 18 November.

3 Document 422.

4 No record of any prediction by Burton as to the likely duration of the work of the Committee of Good Offices has been found. For Chifley's view, see Document 425, note 2.

5 Kirby had planned to fly from Djokjakarta to visit Dutch and Republican-controlled areas in Sumatra.

6 Document 423.

[12]. Informal questions and answers by the Prime Minister.