419 Cutts to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K219 BATAVIA, 21 December 1948, 6.30 p.m.


The following is a summary of Schuurman's letter dated December 20th in reply to Cochran's letter December 1[7]th (K211). [1] A copy was forwarded by air bag to-day.

The visits of Stikker and of the special Delegation clarified the position of the parties regarding certain basic issues but discussions broke down because 'at the very last minute Hatta had to admit that several of his statements were not endorsed by his Government'. The assurances in Hatta's letter to Cochran [of 13th December] [2] were too vague to be accepted by the Netherlands Government as a sufficient basis for resumption of negotiations.

The purpose of the Netherlands letter of December 17th (K210) [3] was:-

'To solicit an unambiguous declaration of the Republican Government which could easily have been given had it been willing to do so as it was familiar with the questions involved'.

2. To the Netherlands letter of December 17th an earlier reply was requested than was originally intended in view of the following developments:-

(a) an almost hourly increase in the number of incidents;

(b) reports of concentration of 100,000 Republican troops on the status quo line and announcement of general manoeuvres of the Republican army;

(c) an official announcement broadcast on December 16th by the Republican Radio setting out the Republican position regarding the Supreme Commander over the Armed forces and during the interim period of the Republican Army in the Federal forces, in terms entirely different from those in Hatta's letter of December 13th.

The Netherlands Government could only conclude that Hatta's opinions were not endorsed by the Republican Government and that requests for a binding declaration had become pointless;

(d) The announcement that the president and six Ministers would depart from India 'furnished additional proof that the Republican Government was not willing to give serious consideration to the proposals advanced by the Netherlands Government'.

3. Despite Cochran's endeavour to bring the Netherlands letter to the attention of the Republican Government, no reply has been forthcoming from the Republic. 4. Regarding the substantive points raised in Cochran's letter (para 1(c) of K211) Schuurman states that:

(a) The first condition in the Netherlands letter (para. 1 (e) of K210) is in no way contrary to the Renville principles as claimed by Cochran.

(b) Regarding the second and third conditions in the Netherlands letter which were the basic issues in the dispute, 'The Netherlands Sovereignty implies that high representative in certain circumstances should have the ultimate power of intervention or overrule while no "private armies" should exist.' Further protracted negotiations would be of no avail if agreement on these basic issues proved clearly impossible. Though informal discussion had failed to bridge the existing differences the Netherlands letter of December 17th offered a final opportunity for the Republican Government to agree on these points.

(c) In view of the increasing number of truce violations and evidence that the Republican authorities have issued instructions for widespread disturbances in the Netherlands-controlled territory in the very near future the Netherlands considered a settlement of this question must precede political negotiations.

5. In all sincerity the Netherlands Government is convinced that it has exhausted all possibility of reaching an equitable settlement.

'The certainty that the Republican Government was unable or unwilling to co-operate to this end has finally forced the Netherlands Government to resume its freedom of action and to carry out without further delay the programme which will lead in the shortest possible time to the establishment of a Sovereign Government corresponding with the wishes of the large majority of Indonesians.'

1 See Document 382.

2 See Document 370. The words in square brackets have been inserted from a copy on file AA:A4357/2, 48/254, vi.

3 Document 381.

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