294 Record of Conversation Between Fernandez, Her Tasning and Matias

Canberra, 24 October 1975


Portuguese Timor

At the Minister's United Nations' Day reception, the Portuguese Ambassador spoke to me about the conversation we had had earlier in the day about support from Darwin for the Portuguese corvette Afonso Cerqueira, when we were joined by the Indonesian Ambassador.

  1. The Portuguese Ambassador told the Indonesian Ambassador that we had been talking about the difficulties of the Governor of Timor and of the possibility that he might pack up and go. The Indonesian Ambassador said that Indonesia hoped that the Governor of Timor would remain atAtauro until the UDT had control ofDili. There was then some desultory conversation about whether Fretilin would be able to continue guerrilla action from the mountains around Maubisse after UDT had captured Dili. The Portuguese Ambassador then left.
  2. I explained to the Indonesian Ambassador that I had been talking to the Portuguese Ambassador about our refusal to provide clearance for the Afonso Cerqueira to visit Darwin from26 to 29 October because of 'Swift Swing'1 and that the earliest that we could contemplate a visit to Darwin by the Portuguese corvette was 4 November and this would be subject to decision by the Minister for Defence. I also expressed our view that the Portuguese corvette should not rely exclusively on Darwin for re-supply but should also use other ports. I added, however, that the Portuguese argued that other ports were too far away and that there was a strong risk that the Governor would pack up and leave Atauro if re-supply at Darwin was denied. I asked about the comment which the Indonesian Ambassador had made to the Portuguese Ambassador of the importance of the Portuguese Governor remaining at Atauro from the Indonesian point of view. The Indonesian Ambassador said that this was so, because, while the Portuguese Governor remained the sovereignty of Portuguese Timor rested clearly with Portugal, and that once he departed Fretilin might be able to claim some international status.
  3. I pointed out that, if this was the Indonesian position, it might be important to them that we continue to provide re-supply for the Afonso Cerqueira at Darwin. We had been concerned, however, about continuing to provide this re-supply because of Indonesian suspicions. The Indonesian Ambassador said that he would send a cable to Jakarta immediately about this and would be in touch with us further. In the meantime, he hoped we would maintain our present position on the visit of the Afonso Cerqueira.2

[NAA: A1838, 3038/10/1, xxxv]