184 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 24 August 1975

O.LB238 SECRET PRIORITY

Portuguese Timor

In paragraph 7 of O.JA14011 Jakarta comments that 'much will depend on what happens in Portugal'.

  1. The demise of the present Portuguese Government is expected any day, to be followed by a more moderate and less communist oriented regime with political party representation broadly based on the April election results.

  2. However, in my view, the situation in Timor has, so far as the Portuguese are concerned, passed the point of no return. I do not believe that any Portuguese government could now be persuaded to try to reassert its authority in Timor. Indeed I doubt whether there is even a will to do so. The Portuguese would be greatly relieved to be rid of the Timor problem, and in their approaches to the United Nations there is little recognition of the fact that Portugal still has responsibilities in Timor. The Portuguese now prefer to regard Timor as an international problem with Indonesia and Australia being the most directly concerned.

  3. In short, I do not really think it matters very much now what happens in Portugal so far as Timor is concerned. Having lost control of Timor the Portuguese are now content to let others solve the problem.

  4. On the question of whether the Portuguese are prepared to ask Indonesia to restore order in Timor, we do not think this will happen in the way the Indonesians would wish. In our view the most the Portuguese will do is seek Indonesian assistance indirectly through the United Nations. The Portuguese Foreign Minister has already told the Indonesian Ambassador orally that they are attracted to the idea of a good offices committee which could be interpreted as an oblique way of declining the Indonesian offer of intervention. (Our O.LB235 and O.LB237.)

  5. COOPER

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