433 Record of Conversation Between Kadri and Joseph

Canberra, 17 March 1976


East Timor

Mr Kadri said that he was calling, under instructions, to discuss the forthcoming Security Council debate on East Timor. Indonesia expected that in the debate attention would focus on the following issues:

  1. self-determination
  2. withdrawal of Indonesian volunteers
  3. report of the special representative
  4. the 23 Portuguese prisoners
  5. relations between Indonesia and East Timor
  1. Mr Kadri said it had always been Indonesia's intention to have an act of self-determination. Even though the PGET claimed that there was no need for such an act Indonesia's view remained that there should be a formal legal basis for integration. The PGET had now accepted this position. They were thinking of a process of self-determination which would involve polling the views of 'peoples' representatives'. The PGET would have no objection to UN representatives observing the act of self-determination. However the implementation of such an act could not be carried out immediately; it would need time.
  2. The Indonesian volunteers were in East Timor at the invitation of the PGET and would be withdrawn when the PGET so requested. Such a request would only be made when the situation in East Timor was secure. There was some indication that the Provisional Government was now 'thinking about' a withdrawal of the volunteers. But meanwhile Indonesia could not accept the wording of the General Assembly 1 that they be withdrawn forthwith.
  3. As to the mission ofMr Winspeare Guicciardi, Mr Kadri said that it should be remembered that Indonesia was successful in convincing the PGET to allow the special representative to visit East Timor. Far from obstructing the mission, Indonesia had assisted it. On the issue of the 23 prisoners, Portugal had now brought the matter before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva. The release of the prisoners was a matter for the PGET.It was apparent, however, that the Portuguese were concerned about the 23 prisoners, but not the 40,000 refugees. Mr Kadri noted that the Indonesian Government had made efforts, particularly before the Rome talks, to secure the release of the prisoners. On the relationship between Indonesia and East Timor, Mr Kadri said this would depend on the people of East Timor.
  4. Mr Joseph thanked Mr Kadri for this exposition. He said that Australia welcomed Indonesia's commitment to self-determination. As to the 'volunteers', the Indonesian Embassy would be aware that we regarded these 'volunteers' as members of the Indonesian regular forces. Australian policy was to call for their withdrawal.
  5. Mr Joseph noted that the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had recently called in our Ambassador to discuss the Security Council debate.2 Our Ambassador had seen Mr Idris, Head of the International Organisations Division, who had repeated some of the points made by Mr Kadri. But Mr Idris had also shown some unhappiness about Mr Peacock's statement3 of 4 March which he appeared to fear might foreshadow a tough Australian position during the forthcoming Security Council debate.
  6. Mr Joseph said that we wished the Indonesian Embassy to know that we did not regard the Minister's 4 March statement as breaking new policy ground. The four elements of Australian policy mentioned in that statement—cessation of hostilities, resumption of international humanitarian aid, withdrawal of Indonesian forces and a genuine act of self¬≠-determination—were objectives consistently held by the Australian Government since its election in December. The four points had been repeated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs during his visit to Jakarta.4 Mr Peacock had also referred to the four points publicly in the statement he issued in Jakarta at the conclusion of his visit. Australian opposition to the use of force had been a consistent thread in Australian policy with both the Labor and the Liberal/ National Country Parties['] governments. Mr Joseph referred in this regard to Mr Whitlam's message to President Suharto of March 1975.5
  7. Mr Joseph said that the Australian position of non-use of force and withdrawal of Indonesian forces may well need to be repeated during the Security Council debate. It was necessary to make this point since it had appeared from the discussions in Jakarta with Mr Woolcott that the Indonesian Foreign Ministry was hoping Australia would modify the policy outlined by the Minister on 4 March. On the other hand it was unlikely that Australia would be in the forefront of Indonesia's critics in the Security Council.
  8. Our approach was more likely to concentrate on Winspeare's recommendation that 'it might be possible to build on the slender common assumption that the people of East Timor should be consulted on the future status of the territory'.6 We had heard that the Secretary­-General might propose that Winspeare continue his contacts with interested parties. In the Security Council, Australia was likely to offer support for any proposal to extend the mandate of the special representative.
  9. Australia would need to repeat its support in the Security Council for self-determination. But our mind was open in regard to the modalities for an act of self-determination. We were unlikely to wish to advance any formula ourselves. We should prefer a consensus to be developed among the Timorese parties about how an act of self-determination might be carried out.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1. xxi]