251 Makin to Department of External Affairs

Departmental Dispatch 59/48 WASHINGTON, 22 September 1948


The Netherlands' Foreign Minister, Mr. Dirk Uipke Stikker, accompanied by Mr. N.S. Blom of the Netherlands Department of Foreign Affairs, arrived in Washington on 16 September for talks with Mr. Marshall and the State Department.

2. In view of the fact that the Secretary of State was leaving for Paris on 19 September, there was naturally considerable speculation as to the reason for Mr. Stikker's hurried visit. The Press (who were of course unaware of the proposals made by Cochran for a political settlement in Indonesia) generally assumed that the visit was connected with the Communist disturbances in Surakarta. It was also linked with Mr. Bevin's speech in the House of Commons a few days before, warning against the expansion of communism in South-East Asia. (Our Departmental Despatch No.

58/48). [1] Mr. Stikker himself informed the Press on his arrival in New York that he wished to discuss 'the general political situation and the activities of communism in the Far East'. The Netherlands' Ambassador, Dr. E. van Kleffens, also gave the impression that wider issues than the Indonesian question were to be discussed. We understand he even informed the British Ambassador that Dr. Stikker hoped to be able to talk about 'Western Europe'.

3. We know, however, that the meeting of Stikker, Blom and Van Kleffens with Marshall, Lovett and Hickerson on the morning of 17 September was devoted exclusively to Indonesia, and that the Cochran proposals were discussed. (Our telegram 1038 [2]). We were also informed by a State Department official present for part of the meeting that it appeared the Netherlands would find it 'difficult to swallow' the Cochran proposals. Our informant said that Blom seemed to have a more liberal approach, but that Stikker was 'a pure empiricist'. Although we have no direct information we assume that the main purpose of the Netherlands' representatives was to obtain U.S. approval of an offer by Van Mook to Hatta to give assistance in crushing Communist activity within the Republic. [3] The view of the State Department expressed to us a few days earlier (our telegram 1028, Para. 4 [4]) was that it would be impossible for Hatta to accept such assistance, and that it was essential first to conclude the political settlement, after which the Provisional Government and High Commissioner could take appropriate action. It is possible, however, that in view of the Communist coup in Madiun, the State Department may have concurred in the offer of assistance to Hatta.

4. Some further indication of the trend of the talks was given by Mr. Stikker in a press interview just before his departure on September 20. According to the Washington Post, the only newspaper which carried a full account, Mr. Stikker described the Communist revolt in Java as part of a coordinated strategy hatched in 'eastern Europe' and using Moscow trained natives as its tools. He drew a sharp distinction, however, between the Communist movement and the present government of the Republic. 'There is a definite split between nationalism and communism', he said. This is a point which has been stressed by the United States, and would seem to indicate that the Netherlands had agreed to encourage Hatta, and to try to build up the moderate nationalists in the Republic. This conclusion is supported by two further statements attributed to Stikker:

(a) that the Netherlands would 'certainly make another effort to arrive at a solution' with the government of the Republic.

(b) 'I have not come here to discuss a new police action. "We want a solution with all the constructive elements in the Republic. If Hatta would be willing to make an arrangement, the Netherlands would be willing to meet him and support him. We want a solution, but not by concessions that would strengthen the Communists.' Mr. Stikker said that the Hatta Government had 'not yet' asked for Netherlands help against its Communists.

5. The State Department has been somewhat reticent regarding the outcome of the talks. We were informed simply that Stikker's statement to the press was a fairly accurate reflection of what had been discussed, and that it was hoped negotiations would now be resumed in Batavia. We have been unable to learn whether the suggestions contained in your telegram 812 [5] were conveyed by the U.S. to the Netherlands' representatives, and if so what the reaction to them was.

1 Departmental Dispatch 58/48 dated at September discussed Stikker's visit to Washington as well as Bevin's statement in the House of Commons on 17 September warning of a Communist revolutionary conspiracy, directed by Moscow, in South-East Asia.

2 See note 1 to Document 245.

3 The offer was made to Hatta on 20 September.

4 Paragraph 4 of Document 244.

5 Document 245.

[AA:A4231/2, 1948 WASHINGTON]