122 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 3 April 1975


Portuguese Timor and Angola

I called on Almeida Santos yesterday to receive a briefing on his London talks with Ali Murtopo.

  1. In outlining Portuguese views, Santos painted the following scenario. Portugal would be prepared to accept the principle of de jure independence for Timor, but before this principle could be implemented, there would be a transitional period of 6-8 years to be divided up as follows:
    1. For the first two or three years—Portugal would retain sovereignty in the person of a high commissioner and a Portuguese administration which would be assisted by a consultative council composed of representatives of the three political parties.
    2. For the next two or three years—a transitional government in which the three parties would be represented but with the Portuguese retaining a majority.
    3. For the next two years—a transitional government in which the political parties would have a majority.
    4. At the end of this period there would be elections for a constituent assembly to decide the territory's future constitutional status.
    (You will note that Santos' plan is similar to the UDT/FRETILIN proposal.)
  2. As a first step a secret meeting would be held in Macao during April which would be attended by representatives from Portugal and the three political parties in Timor. At the same time Indonesian representatives would be available for consultation in Hong Kong if required.
  3. Santos said that Portugal would not impose any solution on Timor. There must be an act of free choice. But the proposed transitional period gave Indonesia and APODETI plenty of time to work for integration into Indonesia if that is what the Timorese wanted.
  4. I asked Santos if Ali Murtopo had accepted the above. He said yes including the proposal that APODETI should attend the preliminary meeting in Hong Kong.
  5. Towards the end of our meeting I reminded Santos of his previous offer to let me have a copy of the Portuguese record of the London talks and he obliged. The document is classified 'most classified most secret' and runs to 22 pages. We shall forward a translation by next safe hand bag. The record shows that Ali gave very little away and in substance did not go beyond saying that he would convey the Portuguese views to President Suharto. He is not on the record as having agreed to anything.
  6. There is thus a wide divergence of views between the two sides and, in the light of Jakarta's reports, Santos has very little reason to be optimistic. This is reinforced by a report just received from Governor Pires that for the past two days Radio Kupang has renewed its propaganda broadcasts to Timor.
  7. I thanked Santos for his advice and for the record of the London talks which I undertook to safeguard appropriately. I said our conversation was timely as President Suharto was currently in Australia for talks with Mr Whitlam and I was sure that Timor would be on the agenda. This prompted Santos to say that he would be grateful if I could brief him on the outcome of the Prime Minister's talks with Suharto in relation to Timor. I said I would be glad to do this as it was our mutual advantage to keep in close contact on the subject. (Grateful therefore if you would keep in mind Santos' request so that I can brief him accordingly.)

[matter omitted]


[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, ix]