145 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 13 June 1975


Lisbon Meeting of Committee of 24: Portuguese Timor

There were successful consultations between Sani, Salim and Campbell on the Timor question when the Committee of 24 meeting opened on 12 June.

  1. Sani had discussed the matter with the Portuguese Foreign Ministry at senior level on 11 June, when it had been confirmed to him that there would be a brief reference to Timor in the Portuguese opening statement. Sani had informed the Portuguese of the interpretation he proposed giving to 'independence' and the Portuguese, while expressing full understanding of this, had not shown any disposition to relieve him of the necessity of doing so.
  2. On this basis Sani and Campbell discussed separately with Salim and the Secretariat the possibility of deleting the reference to 'independence' and Sani, drawing on Resolution 1514,1 proposed the substitution of 'to determine freely their political status'. These discussions brought out clearly, however, the difficulty for the Committee in dealing with a Portuguese territory of some size, of referring to self-determination but not independence. Instead therefore of listing any or all of the options open to Timor it was readily agreed to by-pass the problem by referring only to the 'goals' set forth in the Charter and in Resolution 1514.
  3. The full paragraph as circulated on the evening of 12 June reads as follows. (We expect the decision on the territories under Portuguese administration to be adopted as early as 13 or 14 June.)


'With regard to Timor and [its] dependencies, the only remaining colonial territory under Portuguese administration outside Africa, the Special Committee expresses the hope that the necessary steps will be taken as appropriate to enable the people of the [that] territory to attain the goals set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples' .2


  1. In opening the debate on the Portuguese territories, the Portuguese Foreign Minister did not dwell at length on any of the particular territories. Our translation of his substantive reference to Timor was simply that 'a summit meeting will soon be held with a view to the independence of Timor'. In view of the brevity of this reference and the probability that the Foreign Minister has not addressed himself in detail to the issues in Timor, we doubt that too much significance need be attached to this reference to independence.
  2. Sani spoke early in the debate referring extensively to Timor and mentioning that Indonesia was prepared to cooperate with neighbouring countries, particularly Australia, in the process of decolonising the territory. Speaking later in the debate Campbell therefore touched on Timor in accordance with your instructions. The extracts from the Indonesian and Australian statements concerning Timor are contained in our accompanying unclassified telegram. Grateful if Canberra would pass these texts to Jakarta and UN New York as required.

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