299 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram K287 BATAVIA, 15 March 1949, 4.30 p.m.

IMMEDIATE CONFIDENTIAL

Your telegram 44. [1]

The reference in my telegram to 'awkward questions regarding Republican participation' in suggested negotiations was based on the following factors:-

(a) The Republican leaders at Bangka are regarded by the populace as being more or less under duress. While they might make arrangements to return to Djokjakarta and resume the administration there, any 'negotiations' before such return could involve a loss of prestige.

(b) Negotiations, to be effective, require the participation of the Republican Government as such. This involves meetings beforehand between two members at Bangka and all or most of those with the Provisional Government in Sumatra, those with the guerillas in Java, Djokjakarta or elsewhere. There are practical difficulties in the way of arranging such a meeting in Netherlands-controlled territories, and the political difficulties are even greater.

(c) Assuming that the Republican leaders at Bangka agree to negotiate despite (a) and (b), the negotiations might be rejected by the Emergency Government. There has been already some criticism of the Bangka leaders taking decisions for which the Emergency Government was given power on 19th December. A conflict at this stage would weaken Republican authority and increase difficulties.

2. The Dutch appear to be completely bogged down, but have so far shown no change of heart. As frequently repeated, only this and pressure can bring a solution. Weakness by the Council at this stage would encourage the Dutch in their obstinacy.

3. If the Chinese/Canadian proposal [2] is adopted, I shall endeavour to obtain a quick agreement on the return of Djokjakarta to the Republicans (a compromise does not seem practical) or an early report to the Council. A dead-line set by the Council would be useful.

1 Document 295.

2 See Document 293.

[AA : A1838, 403/2/3/2, iii]