198 Cablegram to Canberra

New York, 28 August 1975


Portuguese Timor

Ref 0.UN3650 1

We have noted Portugal's reluctance to allow Indonesian intervention in Timor to restore order (ref O.LB256).2 It was this Portuguese reluctance that led us to explore the possibility of providing some UN cover for a Portuguese request to Indonesia to restore order in the territory.

  1. I had the opportunity today of a further conversation with Sani but he had no reactions from Jakarta to the possibilities we had canvassed. I would therefore appreciate authority to sound out on a slightly wider basis the acceptability of a mission of the Committee of Twenty¬≠—Four which might visit Portuguese Timor to report on the situation once Indonesia had, following on a Portuguese request, taken steps to restore order as the necessary prelude to reinstating a viable process of self-determination. I should like the views of Waldheim, who has been kept closely informed of developments by Sani. I see value, too, in talking to the Portuguese Charge. I would need at an early stage to talk to the representatives of those countries which might participate in any Committee of Twenty-Four mission. In particular I would appreciate advice as to whether I may say that Australia would be prepared to participate at the appropriate time in a suitable visiting mission.
  2. I have just received Jakarta's O.JA1503 and note Tjan's comment that any intervention by Indonesia would be reported to the Secretary-General but that Soeharto is firmly against 'intemationalisation'. I would suggest, however, that hostile reactions in the United Nations to any Indonesian intervention might best be avoided by Indonesia itself proposing a Committee of Twenty-Four mission to observe the situation after it had restored order. I believe something along these lines will be desirable even if Indonesia acts with full Portuguese approval; but I see it also as a device to save Portuguese face.
  3. The delicacy of the situation in relation to the UN, including possible Chinese interest, was underlined again today in a remark by Under-Secretary-General Tang Ming-chao to A. D. Campbell. Tang said he saw problems in intervention in Timor by Indonesia, an adjacent neighbour, because of the precedent this would set for Angola.


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