372 Letter from Miller to Woolcott

Canberra, 11 December 1975


A note to sympathise with your present difficulties over Timor, provoked to a considerable extent it seems by the caretaker Government's sensitivity to Monday's editorials in an election week.

I have not always agreed with your line on Timor, thinking that we might have tried once more to get the Indonesians to accept the idea of living with a Fretilin-dominated East Timor. (The attached note to John Rowland as Acting Secretary in September indicates what I was unsuccessfully advocating.1)

However I feel strongly that particularly since in the end we did not really seek to change the Indonesians' minds we should now make our main objective, as you urge in your O.JA35682 of 9 December, to limit the harm to Indonesia and to our relations with it which its action will cause. We have to accept that having made the decision to act, although knowing the international opprobrium which their action would inevitably bring, the Indonesians will not break off without achieving their goal. I only hope that we will be clear-headed enough to keep in mind that international observer groups, and our participation in them, will simply mean a continuation and institutionalisation of the clash between our relationship with Indonesia and our commitment to self-determination which has caused us so much difficulty already.

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