353 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 1 December 1975


Portuguese Timor

Our immediately following telegram contains text of relevant extracts from a story filed 29 November by the Washington Post correspondent visiting Jakarta (Saar). The story is based on an interview with General Ali Murtopo.1

  1. As you will see, Ali Murtopo's remarks as reported strongly imply that Indonesia is rapidly moving towards an open, conventional invasion of Portuguese Timor. This appears to contradict the advice given in our JA3359.2
  2. We asked Tjan on 30 November about the Washington Post account. He said that Ali had not said that Indonesia would intervene in such a blatant manner. Ali had said that under the present circumstances of an illegal UDI by FRETILIN, Indonesia was justified in providing full assistance to the pro-Indonesian forces in Portuguese Timor. (You will be aware of course that Indonesian support for UDT/APODETI forces in Portuguese Timor is already about as large as Ali is quoted as saying it will become.)
  3. As you know, by 'UDT/APODETI forces' Tjan and Lim Bian Kie (and our other close Indonesian contacts) mean 'Indonesian forces supplemented by a few Timorese soldiers'. In reading our JA3359 and other messages this should be clearly understood.
  4. President Soeharto has all along ruled out overt large-scale military intervention, and he evidently repeated this again at last Saturday's meeting (29 November). Tjan said that the President insisted that the final outcome of Portuguese Timor's integration into Indonesia had to be 'legal'.
  5. Tjan acknowledged that the extent oflndonesia's 'assistance' to the pro-Indonesian side in Portuguese Timor would be difficult to conceal. This did not worry the Indonesian Government he said because it could now be easily justified: FRETILIN had declared an illegal UDI at the time talks were being planned and the four other parties in Portuguese Timor had made a declaration of integration in favour of Indonesia.

[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, xvi]