33 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 19 September 1974


Portuguese Timor

For the Minister from Furlonger (Personal for Mcintyre)

Tjan (the Adviser to Ali Murtopo, to whom President Soeharto has given the main running on Portuguese Timor) passed the following information to us in strict confidence on 18 September. He asked that it be passed to you as background for your visit to New York and meeting there with Adam Malik:

  1. The Indonesian Ambassador to Belgium, Frans Seda, and a Colonel Mohammed, a special representative of Ali Murtopo, have been on a secret mission to Portugal. They met the Deputy Foreign Minister, Professor Campinos, on 13 September.
  2. Campinos expressed agreement with the Indonesian view that Portuguese Timor should become part of Indonesia.
  3. It was agreed with Campinos that Ali Murtopo and Seda should visit Lisbon in early October for talks with Spinola, the Prime Minister, Santos, Soares and Campinos.
  4. They also agreed that:
    1. relations should be established as soon as possible after this meeting;
    2. Portugal and Indonesia should work to promote the economic development of Portuguese Timor, both internationally and bilaterally;
    3. they should work towards forming a joint Portuguese/Indonesian administration of Portuguese Timor;
    4. action in the UN should be avoided. Campinos took an anti-communist line and said that Portugal believed China had interests in Portuguese Timor as well as in Macao, whilst Seda had been told by Luns1 that NATO considers China wishes the matter to be handled at the UN where it could if necessary exercise its veto power in the Security Council.
    5. Colonel Mohammed has done a briefing paper which has been submitted to the President, who agrees with the points in sub-paragraph (iv). (These points are in line with earlier recommendations by Tjan to Ali Murtopo.)
    6. The President has told Cabinet in the last few days that Indonesia, Portugal and Australia should work towards promoting the economic development of Portuguese Timor.
  1. In the light of these discussions and the advice received from Luns, Tjan appeared a little apprehensive lest we might initiate action on Portuguese Timor in the UN. With regard to your meeting with Mr Malik, it was apparent from the Prime Minister's talks here that Malik is not fully in sympathy with his Government's line. He is also not being kept fully informed of developments. Policy on Portuguese Timor is being directed by the President himself, whilst its execution is largely in the hands of Ali Murtopo. Even though we may find this an odd way to proceed, it is a typical Indonesian operation, in which the President is using trusted and efficient informal channels and bypassing the bureaucratic structure. He has often in the past used Ali Murtopo and the people like Tjan around him on important and particularly sensitive issues. I fear therefore that too much may not emerge from your talks with Malik; the person best informed in New York is Ali Murtopo's private secretary, Lim Bian Kie, who is loosely attached to Malik's delegation. There might even be benefit in arranging a strictly private meeting with him (I understand that he intended to make contact with our Deputy Representative (Campbell)). In any event it will be particularly important that our delegation in New York keep in close touch with Lim Bian Kie on tactics to be pursued there.
  2. For the same reasons, ifl may say so, I doubt that much would be gained from a tripartite meeting between yourself, Malik and Soares. Malik in his free-wheeling fashion might indeed only add confusion to the situation. It will of course be up to the Portuguese to decide how far they wish to take us into their confidence, but it could be helpful if you dispelled any illusions Soares may have about Malik's influence in the Government and on this issue in particular.

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