37 Department of External Affairs to Eaton

Cablegram 14 CANBERRA, 28 January 1948, 2.40 p.m.

IMPORTANT SECRET

On the question of Republican desire to maintain its own representatives in countries overseas, whilst you will best be able to judge from local situation how contentious this is likely to become, it would appear to us that it should not be allowed to bring about a break-down in forthcoming talks.

We assume that what Republican Government desires is a continuation of its existing practice of having informal representatives abroad who do not carry diplomatic status but who are in a position, like Usman in Australia, to perform a range of practical functions, e.g. purchasing of supplies and provision of specialised information. The Dutch, if they do not actually insist that such overseas representation is unnecessary and undesirable, will no doubt at least demand that any such Republican representatives abroad be brought under the direct jurisdiction of Netherlands diplomatic missions.

There seems to us no reason why, given some degree of mutual trust between the parties, the present arrangement should not be allowed to continue and be extended. It is after all not far removed from the practice whereby Australian States maintain their own separate representatives in London. Perhaps an even closer parallel is provided by the presence in Australia of a special representative of the Sultan of Johore.

In any event we do not see how the Dutch can in the last resort prevent the Republic from maintaining contact with its own representatives abroad. If the Dutch were prepared to face realities they would realise that a flat refusal to meet the Republic on this point would drive the Republic to maintain clandestine channels of communication to contacts abroad which would defeat the Dutch purpose and would at the same time breed further ill-will between the two parties.

[AA:A1838, 401/3/10/1, ii]