105 Cablegram to Jakarta and Lisbon

Canberra, 5 March 1975


Portuguese Timor

Our immediate[ly] following telegram contains the text of an AAP-Reuters report from Jakarta on APODETI's rejection of Portugal's invitation to visit Lisbon for discussions on Portuguese Timor. The report notes that the other two parties, UDT and FRETILIN, have accepted the Portuguese invitation.

  1. In recent discussions with the Portuguese Embassy in Canberra we have been at pains to underline that, despite Portugal's assessment that APODETI has minimal support in Portuguese Timor, it seems important that APODETI should not be simply ignored, among other reasons because to ignore APODETI would arouse further suspicion in Indonesia. It seems to us that the Portuguese are acting correctly in inviting APODETI with the other two political parties to participate in discussions about the territory's future. We suppose, moreover, that any discussion will cover the latest proposals advanced by UDT-FRETILIN, including the proposal for a protracted transitional period before an act of self-determination and for an agreement on non-aggression and co-operation with Indonesia.
  2. As you know, we are encouraged by these latest UDT-FRETILIN proposals which we believe offer a promising basis for progress with the problem of Portuguese Timor, meeting both the proper aspirations of the Timorese and the legitimate security interests of Indonesia.
  3. We have hoped that the Indonesians would see the same possibilities in this approach as we do, and indeed we are keen to engage the Indonesians in discussion about UDT-FRETILIN ideas.
  4. There would seem to be a place for APODETI in all this. Clearly it would need to modify or at least stop pressing its demands for immediate integration with Indonesia. But then UDT and FRETILIN have also been forced to compromise, UDT by accepting eventual independence, FRETILIN by abandoning its claim to immediate independence; and their support for very gradual decolonisation in Portuguese Timor provides APODETI with an opportunity. Cannot APODETI also be brought to cooperate in that process on the basis that it could build its hopes for a close relationship with Indonesia on the suggestion for an agreement with Indonesia?
  5. When opportunity presents, we should like you to put the foregoing to the Indonesians. At the least there would seem no reason why APODETI should not go to Lisbon to see what the Portuguese have to say. And we hope that the Indonesians would see value in encouraging APODETI in this course. We appreciate that they may be hesitant to encourage APODETI to join in the decolonisation process envisaged by UDT-FRETILIN because for APODETI to do so would be hard to reconcile, for instance, with Indonesian allegations of governmental suppression of APODETI in Portuguese Timor. For all that, we think it worth approaching the Indonesians as we suggest.

For Lisbon

  1. We assume that Portugal will be taking an early opportunity to discuss the latest UDT-FRETILIN proposals with Indonesia. As agreed by Dr Santos, we have already given the Indonesians a general outline of the new proposals, but they are clearly awaiting ... a direct approach from Portugal. We imagine that this might be done through the new Indonesian Embassy in Lisbon or, perhaps more likely, with Ali Murtopo who, Jakarta tells us, is shortly to arrive in Lisbon.

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, vii]