185 Cablegram to Jakarta

Canberra, 25 August 19751


Portuguese Timor

Ref O.JA140J,2 O.JA14033

Prime Minister who is in Sydney and returns to Canberra on Tuesday has seen your telegrams up to O.JA1396 but we have been able to discuss with him by telephone the main points of your O.JA1401 and 1403.

  1. As to Governor Pires's reported appeal, circumstances as described by Portuguese Ambassador are set out in our [CH258382].4 Appeal has moreover now been clarified by Portuguese Foreign Ministry note and letter to Secretary-General United Nations from Portuguese Foreign Minister described in Lisbon's O.LB237. Letter to Secretary-General places the appeal in context of evacuation operations.
  2. It therefore appears that Portuguese Government has not responded to Indonesian enquiry whether Indonesian assistance is wanted in 'restoring peace and order in Portuguese Timor' except in this particular context of evacuation (o[n] which the Indonesians are already acting-your O.JA13995 ). You will now have seen Lisbon's O.LB2386 expressing the view that the most the Portuguese would do is to seek Indonesian assistance indirectly through the United Nations. We remain of the view that cooperation and agreement between Indonesia and Portugal is of primary importance.
  3. A further factor is that according to message from vessel Macdili now at Dili received here a couple of hours ago and repeated to you in our O.CH258379 situation in Dili at present is calm but tense (though with minor skirmishes and isolated gunfire) and Macdili expects to be able to accommodate all known refugees. Indonesian Consul's car has been sighted flying official flag. For the moment at least, therefore, immediate tension may be somewhat diminished although it could of course always mount again.
  4. In the circumstances the Prime Minister does not think that any direct or indirect message from him to President Soeharto is called for at this stage.
  5. Santos is due in Australia on Wednesday and unless there is a further outbreak in Dili the next steps may relate to his getting to Dili and attempting mediation there. There is also the question of a good offices committee. We are not sure what the next step will be. According to the Portuguese Ambassador, the Portuguese are making or may already have made a request to the Secretary-General for a good offices committee to study the political situation in Portuguese Timor. We understand from the Portuguese Ambassador that Waldheim's feeling is that Portugal, Australia, Indonesia and at least one other regional country might serve on the committee (para 13 of O.UN36247 ). We feel that we ought to be positive in responding to a United Nation's request to serve but we would only wish to serve if the idea of a committee were acceptable to Indonesia; if Indonesia were agreeable to our doing so and if we were in company with Indonesia and some other regional countries.8 (We would wish to continue consulting Indonesia closely about this-your O.JA1392). 9

[NAA: A 10463, 801/13/11/1, xii]