1 Submission to Willesee

Canberra, 29 April l974

RESTRICTED

Portugal

Attached for consideration is a draft press statement on the events in Portugal.

  1. You will wish to consider as a separate issue the question of the Australian Government's attitude to the Junta. Although the regime would appear, from all reports, to be in full control of the country, we have few indications of the attitude which other governments are likely to take. Brazil has recognised the regime and according to a BBC report this morning, South Africa and Rhodesia have also extended formal recognition, which is enough to suggest that Australia would do well to hold its hand. Our view would be that Australia could wait until most other West European governments have either recognised the new regime formally or established relations on a de facto basis.
  2. The draft press statement refers specifically only to Portugal's overseas territories in Africa (Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique). There is also, of course, Portuguese Timor. If you agree, we would propose that any press enquiries on this point should be answered along the lines that while Australia is interested in these developments from the point of view of Portugal's overseas territories generally, we would regard any initiative in respect of Timor as a matter primarily for the Indonesian Government. For the time being the Australian Government would adopt a 'business as usual' approach to its relations with Portuguese Timor.1

F. B. COOPER

First Assistant Secretary2

[NAA: Al838, 49/1/3, v]