373 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1270 WASHINGTON, 14 December 1948, 3.38 p.m.


Your 993. [1] Indonesia.

State Department received this morning from Cochran text of letter from Hatta [2] clarifying Republican position and expressing desire to resume negotiations. (Summary in our immediately following telegram).

2. Butterworth, Director of Office of Far Eastern Affairs of State Department, said that there had not yet been time to decide what action State Department would take. Hatta's letter had, of course, been handed to Netherlands Delegation for transmission to The Hague and he hoped Netherlands Cabinet might decide to reopen negotiations. (One of Butterworth's advisers commented that the Dutch might, 'leap at this opportunity to get off the limb').

3. We pointed out that when the Dutch Cabinet had reached decision to break off negotiations and to advise Committee of Good Offices that further discussion was useless they had been fully aware that Hatta wanted to continue negotiations. It seemed unlikely that the Dutch would reverse this decision unless some new element were introduced which could only be either pressure on the Dutch through the Security Council or by direct representations or, on the other hand, some further concession by the Republic. We felt that Republic could not be expected e.g. to give up their army while the Dutch were continually increasing theirs. We asked what positive steps U.S. proposed to take.

4. Butterworth then read text of Hatta's letter implying that he considered this re-statement of the Republican position might of itself enable negotiations to be resumed, he said United States view had always been that public debate in the Security Council was not necessarily helpful. Some members of the Security Council, e.g. United Kingdom, did not share the United States view that the Cochran proposals, which would leave Republican army in existence as a State Militia, were reasonable. The United States did not regard the Committee of Good Offices as the only, or even the best, forum for negotiation. Settlement through bilateral discussions might be more permanent since the parties would try to make such a settlement work.

5. We recalled the United States statement at Lapstone that their aim was to prevent the Dutch from setting up an Interim Government without the Republic. [3] Butterworth indicated that this was still United States objective. It was certainly desirable to avoid partition. He asked what we thought effect would be of establishing a Government excluding the Republic. We suggested that Republicans could not be expected to remain inactive if the Dutch proceeded with their plans. The Republic had already been isolated militarily by Dutch forces and economically by Dutch blockade. It was unlikely that they would accept passively the organisation of a federation which they could enter only on Dutch terms. We stressed desirability of persuading Netherlands to postpone promulgation of interim Government and to resume negotiations immediately.

6. Butterworth undertook to keep us in touch with developments and to advise us of any action taken to follow up Hatta's letter. He agreed with need for close consultation, although State Department had considered Batavia the main centre of operations and had assumed that you were constantly informed of U.S. views and actions through Critchley's contact with Cochran.

1 Document 367.

2 See Document 370.

3 See Documents 360 and 362.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xix]