414 Record of Conversation Between Sunarso and Rodgers

Jakarta, 2 February 1976



Portuguese Timor

On 2 February we asked Sunarso how the Indonesians viewed the projected visit to a Fretilin controlled area in Portuguese Timor by the Special United Nations Envoy, Mr Winspeare Guicciardi. Sunarso replied that a visit by Winspeare to a Fretilin controlled area would clearly not be in Indonesia's interest. Indonesia for some time had been emphasising the growing weakness of Fretilin's position. A visit by Winspeare to a Fretilin controlled area would only bring into fresh focus the question of the validity of earlier Indonesian claims.

  1. For this reason said Sunarso, Indonesia would do all it could to ensure that the visit did not take place. Indonesia would be as obstructionist as possible over the visit. If, for example, the Portuguese Corvette carrying Winspeare sought to land at a pro-Indonesian controlled area to enable Winspeare to travel overland to a Fretilin controlled area permission for this would be refused absolutely.
  2. I asked Sunarso about the actual extent ofFretilin's control in Portuguese Timor. Sunarso said that Fretilin was very much confined to a small area to the east of Bobonaro.1 He said the terrain in this area was very difficult. This combined with the current wet season conditions meant that progress against Fretilin in this area was slow. An important and additional element hampering Indonesian operations, said Sunarso, was the Indonesian lack of effective fire support from the air.
  3. Nevertheless, in spite of these problems, when questioned as to the likely period before the remaining Fretilin resistance collapsed Sunarso was optimistic that it would be less than a month. He said it was probable that a move against Fretilin positions around Bobonaro would be made from the direction of Aileu, rather than from the west around Bobonaro itself.
  4. In passing Sunarso said that an example of the difficulties of clearing operations in the terrain of Portuguese Timor was that it was not until 23 December that Indonesian ships had been able to anchor in Dili Harbour in daylight. This had been caused by the danger of ships coming under Fretilin mortar fire from the hills surrounding Dili.

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