82 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 689 LONDON, 13 October 1941, 11.45 p.m.

MOST SECRET

Your 588 of 8th September. [1]

PORTUGUESE TIMOR His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom agree that Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor would constitute serious threat and that consultation with the Netherlands authorities would be desirable. It is felt, however, that this subject should be discussed with the Portuguese also.

2. Before approaching either the Dutch or Portuguese we should be glad to learn whether, if the Portuguese agree in certain circumstances to accept reinforcements from outside Portuguese Timor, the Commonwealth Government would be willing to undertake this commitment in addition to their commitments in respect of Ambon and Koepang.

3. We suggest that approach to the Portuguese should be on the lines of an enquiry whether they would be prepared to accept outside help if it is found necessary by the military authorities on the spot and that the approach to both the Dutch and Portuguese should seek their agreement to Australian, Dutch and Portuguese military authorities discussing locally (1) the preventive action necessary (2) the action which should be taken if a threat should actually eventuate.

Since, however, the local military authorities in Portuguese Timor may not be qualified for discussing strategic matters, we think that, as far as the Portuguese are concerned, it would be necessary to clear the ground [as far as possible] [2] at this end first. If the Portuguese agree generally, the place and method of discussions could be settled later.

4. Should be glad of the earliest possible indication whether the Commonwealth Government concur as opportunity for raising the matter with the Portuguese may occur in the very near future and it would also be convenient to raise it with the Dutch at the same time as the proposal regarding Ambon and Koepang (my immediately following telegram [3]).

1 Document 62.

2 Corrected from the London COPY ill PRO:DO 114/113.

3 Cablegram 690 of 14 October On file AA:A1608, AA27/1/1.

[AA: A1608, J41/1/9, i]