14 Memorandum to Jakarta

Canberra, 5 July 1974


Portuguese Timor

We should like you to discuss our assessment of the political situation in Portuguese Timor (SAV 026)1 with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other interested Indonesian agencies. Those parts of the assessment that relate to the role and interests of Australia and Indonesia obviously require sensitive handling.

  1. Our overriding impression from visiting Portuguese Timor was of the infant state of political development. Time is required to develop the political consciousness of the people to a point where genuine self-determination is possible. The lapse of time should suit both Australian and Indonesian interests.
  2. We wish to avoid any possibility of differences between Australia and Indonesia over Portuguese Timor. At the same time we consider that the Timorese should not be denied the chance to exercise self-determination. The impression that we wish you to convey to the Indonesians is that there seems no cause for immediate anxiety about Portuguese Timor. The situation there is orderly and is developing in a favourable direction.2
  3. As discussed with the Ambassador during his visit to Australia, it would be useful if you could now arrange a visit to Indonesian Timor. The Indonesian consul at Dili was somewhat concerned at the extent of private links that have developed between Dili and Kupang. Such has been true in relation to Darwin as well. (Please see the attached supplementary report on our visit to Portuguese Timor which is strictly for your own information.)
  4. We are interested in the Americans' assessment following their recent visit to Portuguese Timor from Surabaya. An additional copy of SAV 026 is attached which you could pass to the United States embassy. We shall also give the report to the Americans in Washington and propose to keep them informed about our thinking.
  5. While we intend to brief the Indonesian embassy here about the findings of our visit, we see Jakarta as the main point of contact with them on Portuguese Timor.

Indonesia Section

[NAA: A10463, 801113/11/1, ii]