451 Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 355 CANBERRA, 29 June 1949, 6 p.m.



You will be aware that on 22nd June Dutch and Republicans reached agreement on arrangements for the restoration of the Republican Government at Djokjakarta and also on conditions for holding of the proposed round table conference at The Hague. [1] While these agreements still have to be ratified by the Republic Government when it re-assembles at Djokjakarta, there is a reasonable prospect that The Hague conference will begin on about its scheduled date of 1st August.

When conference meets there will still be a number of vital problems to resolve, and if a satisfactory settlement is to be reached a great deal is likely to depend on the skill and patience of the United Nations Commission. This makes it all the more important that the Commission should be allowed to exercise its full influence on the proceedings. We have taken the view that the Commission should in fact preside, and the Republicans would also like this. Since, however, the Dutch can claim to have taken the initiative in calling the conference they will doubtless expect to preside, and it appears that United States Government concurs in this, and that the Republicans themselves are unlikely to resist it to the point of deadlock.

Assuming that the Netherlands is to preside over the conference as a whole, the next best thing is that the Commission should be in a position to influence and control the work of the committees and sub-committees. It appears that the Dutch themselves have suggested that committee chairmanships should rotate or be allocated to experienced participants. Since under the conditions agreed upon at Batavia the conference is to decide its own rules of procedure, this should create an opportunity for ensuring that the Commission will preside permanently over the Steering Committee, which is likely to be the key committee of the conference.

Please discuss matter with the State Department, which we believe has been taking the view that the Dutch should assume responsibility for the success or failure of the conference. You should emphasize that we regard a settlement in Indonesia as a United Nations responsibility and that a successful outcome at The Hague depends on the active participation of the Commission, which has been largely responsible for the measure of agreement reached in the last few weeks. We fear that a conference held under the sole auspices of the Dutch, with the Commission relegated to a purely advisory position, might result only in an agreement accepted under pressure by the Republican Delegation but later repudiated by the Republican people.

1 See Document 447.

[AA : A1838, 401/3/1/1, vi]