216 Australian Government to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 192 CANBERRA, 26 July 1948

TOP SECRET

Your telegram 190. [1] Indonesia.

We agree that it would be helpful if United States and Belgian Governments could be persuaded to appoint outstanding persons to membership of Committee of Good Offices. At the same time, we do not think that such new appointments would of themselves in any way enhance prospects of an early and satisfactory settlement.

The causes of continued disagreement in negotiations lie too deep to to be affected to any great extent by the individual calibre of the members of the Committee of Good Offices. The dominating factors are on the one hand Republican determination to attain what has been the world over regarded as a just claim, and Dutch intransigence on the other.

As we understand it, the principal fear in the minds of Republican leaders has been that by accepting any of the Dutch offers made up to the present they would find themselves committed to participation in a provisional government of Indonesia enjoying nominal authority and doomed to an indefinite period of tutelage under Netherlands sovereignty. Such a turn of events would amount, in Republican eyes, to a virtual restoration of the status quo and would fail to recognise the position which the Republic has won for itself within Indonesia and in the eyes of the world. We believe it was mainly for purpose of allaying these Republican fears that Australian and United States members of Committee produced their proposals. [2] These proposals, while in some details perhaps unacceptable to the Netherlands would, in our view, provide sound basis for discussion and immediate agreement.

Notwithstanding unqualified refusal of Netherlands Government to consider them up to the present, we still believe that, if there is to be any settlement at all, the Netherlands will have to accept some of them, possibly as part of the plan which they are reported to have been discussing with Dr. Hatta.

If the Dutch can be persuaded to meet the Republicans to some extent on (a) powers to be exercised by provisional government and (b) prospective date for elections and/or handing over of sovereignty to United States of Indonesia, we feel that other difficulties might be quickly resolved.

While the dominating factor in the negotiations has been Dutch intransigence, this is directly due in our view to encouragement the Dutch have received from the negative attitude in and outside the Security Council of all Western powers. The Indonesian situation will continue to deteriorate unless the Dutch are pressed to accept early settlement as one of the steps which must urgently be taken to prevent further inspired political disturbance in this area.

1 Document 207.

2 Document 173.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/2, vi]