President Soeharto's Visit
I consider that President's visit to Townsville went well. Following comments may supplement Feakes' impressions.
- President was clearly very satisfied with visit and this was clear from comments he and senior members of his party made on return flight.
- I believe that trace of coolness which I detected in attitude towards Australia on my arrival-which at that time stemmed mainly from uneasiness about what was regarded as over-reaction in Australia on Timor issue and uneasiness about increasingly critical attitudes in Australia towards detainees and aid-has been dissipated partly by the Deputy Prime Minister's recent visit and especially by the President's visit to Australia. The spirit of Wonosobo has been strengthened in Townsville and the Indonesians are now thinking in terms of another round of private talks, provisionally scheduled for about April next year in Sumatra.
- Soeharto also said on plane that informal talks of the nature which had developed in Wonosobo and Townsville were the best way of strengthening Australian-Indonesian understanding and of dealing with any problems which might arise on one side or the other in our bilateral relations. We have in fact achieved a unique position for a non-Asian country with these arrangements. We should attach importance to preserving them.
- Although both President and Prime Minister start from the basis that the long term relationship between the two countries is the key issue and that problems which may arise between the two countries should be seen in that context, there are several issues which will need careful handling over the next few months.
- Australian and Indonesian attitudes are still substantially different in respect of the situation in Indo China. While Australian Government takes the view that a communist dominated Indo China, even if it were to include strong nationalist elements, is inevitable and unlikely to be expansionist beyond Indo China, Indonesians are still wary of possible effects on ASEAN, in particular on Thailand. They are still, at this late stage, attempting to get a negotiated settlement in Cambodia rather than see complete Khmer Rouge takeover. They are also uneasy and concerned about the ramifications in Asia of what they regard as a loss of resolution, leadership and prestige on the part of the United States.
- We shall continue to need to watch the Portuguese Timor situation. While the issue has cooled down, which is a good thing, there are differences of interpretation here and in Lisbon on what the two governments have agreed upon. Also if Portugal itself were to become highly unstable or if FRETILIN were to become more dominant and move to the left in Timor while retaining vocal public support in Australia the situation could again become difficult.
[NAA: A1838, 49/2/1/1, vi]