324 Letter from Feakes to Woolcott

Canberra, 5 November 1975

SECRET

In our telegram O.CH2859271 we mentioned in paragraphs 6 and 7 the possibility of some sort of regional approval for the Rome agreement between the Indonesians and the Portuguese. Looking further down the road, we still wonder whether there would be some mileage in regional endorsement of the outcome of talks between the Portuguese and the three Timorese parties, supposing they ever come about. We touched on this possibility in our O.CH266103 of 11 September2 and O.CH265548 of 10 September.3 We agree with Sunarso that a desirable objective of the talks would be a return to something akin to the Macao program with a Portuguese Governor reinstated in Dili and with a resumption of an orderly process of decolonization in which the three parties, FRETILIN, UDT and APODETI, would all be able to function. It would also be a desirable outcome that Indonesia's special place be recognized and indeed formalized in some way. We wonder whether the prospect of regional endorsement of talks between the Portuguese and the Timorese parties, if it were made known, might not in itself help achieve a satisfactory outcome.

The Portuguese might be expected to welcome such a prospect and to gain new heart to press ahead with their efforts. They might also be stiffened in their resistance to FRETILIN demands for a FRETILIN-dominated solution in Timor which failed to accommodate the demands of the other two parties. But even FRETILIN could be attracted by the prospect of some regional involvement, perhaps seeing in it the best prospect for a secure future for an independent East Timor and for an abatement of Indonesian hostility. From the Indonesian point of view, the attraction of some form of regional endorsement lies partly in the recognition Indonesia could thereby secure of its special status in relation to Timor. But more important, were Timor again to lapse into political crisis, there would already be a regional framework for approaching the problem and one which took account of the special interests of Indonesia.

You might like to take all this into account in talking to the Indonesians about the Rome talks.

[NAA: A11443 [10]]