East Timor-Security Council Debate
The timing of the Security Council's resumed debate on Timor is still not clear, but it has been tentatively scheduled to begin on 14 April, that is at the time when you will be in Jakarta. Since Messrs Rowland and Joseph will be leaving for the Officials' Talks next week you may wish now to finalise the main outline of the Australian statement.
- The Australian Mission in New York had already prepared a text to which you gave your broad approval while in New York.1 The attached draft2 accordingly draws heavily on the New York text. We have, however, attempted a simpler presentation. We have also taken into account subsequent telegrams from New York3 and Jakarta,4 and your own notations on one of these telegrams.
Un Assistance or Presence
- We have slightly altered the relevant passage to read 'some form of UN participation' rather than 'presence'. We should be disinclined to give support to the PGET proposal to invite a mission from the Committee of Twenty-Four to observe the process of self-determination. The Committee itself is likely to have difficulties with this proposal and in any event we think that we should be cautious about language which might lead to pressure on Australia to accept membership of such a UN mission. The Government may well feel in this regard that it should not become directly associated with what is likely to be, in greater or less degree, a pre-arranged act of self-determination.
- We have compressed somewhat the passage on self-determination, notably in deleting a passage to the effect that 'centuries of colonial rule have done little to advance the literacy and educational standards of the territory'.
Consultations between the parties
- We believe that the note on which the Australian statement should conclude should be the need for the Security Council to extend Winspeare's mandate in order that he may continue consultations with the various parties. Such an approach would be consistent with the Secretary-General's own recommendation that 'as the parties concerned have expressed their readiness to continue consultations with my special representative, I suggest that these consultations should be continued for the time being ... '
- In fact some contact has already taken place between the Secretary-General, the Indonesians, the Portuguese and FRETILIN and the PGET on the modalities for such consultations. The initial idea was that Winspeare might convene a round table conference in which all four parties principal would participate. Indonesia, however, has said it could not take part because it does not consider itself directly concerned. Indonesia also expressed opposition to Portugal playing an active part. The present idea therefore is that Winspeare should meet individually in Geneva with each of the Timorese political parties, with Indonesia in 'close proximity'.
- We take it that you do not disagree that the Australian statement should support such contacts and consultations. We understand that this will also be the British and Japanese approach.
Withdrawal of Indonesian forces
- The chief problem is that of the withdrawal of Indonesian forces and whether (in addition to earlier references in paragraphs 8 and 9) the section in square brackets should remain.5 Some token withdrawals might take place—and according to the Indonesians have taken place—but withdrawals will not be on a scale as would satisfy the language of the square brackets section. The Australian statement must of course include a clear reference to Government policy on withdrawal of forces and paragraphs 8 and 9 have been drafted accordingly. But we should be hesitant about going as far as saying that withdrawal of Indonesian forces is an indispensable precondition for a satisfactory act of self-determination. Some months from now, the Government may feel it will wish to come out in support of such a position, but there seems no immediate need to move to language of this sort.
- If we were to do so, FRETILIN could regard it as support for itself in the Security Council against Indonesia. It could also place us out of step with our friends in the Security Council—the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and France. It could not fail to aggravate the difficulties we are having with the Indonesians and which have led them to make representations to Woolcott in Jakarta asking us to ease up on them in the Security Council. These representations have come formally from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and informally from General Moerdani. Woolcott has also reported that concern and disquiet about Australian policy has been expressed by others in the government in Jakarta, and that this concern is known to be shared by President Suharto.
- Another consideration is that the Indonesians are probably correct in arguing that withdrawal of Indonesian forces would, if implemented, lead to renewed factional fighting and further bloodshed. There seems no inclination on the part of the Secretary-General or in the Security Council to send in a UN peacekeeping force which might replace the Indonesians, and it seems equally clear that the ASEAN countries are not thinking in terms of one. A force would only be practical if the Indonesians were to accept and cooperate with it, and there is no sign of this. To advocate a force nevertheless would of course be possible, but would seem unrealistic, in addition of course to attracting Indonesian displeasure.
- But the main point is that were we to use the language in the square brackets in the Security Council we should have effectively reduced our room for manoeuvre and before there is a need to do so.6
- The statement as currently drafted has been agreed with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. (It will be recalled that the Prime Minister requested that his Department be consulted on the text in your meeting with him on 30 March.) Like us, PM & C regard the paragraph in square brackets as the chief problem. They would wish to see it deleted, and believe that they would need to consult the Prime Minister were it to remain.
- I recommend that you approve the draft statement without the paragraph in the square brackets. The draft will of course need to be subject to last minute amendments to take account of developments either in Timor or Jakarta or in New York.7
[NAA: A1838, 3038/10/1/2, iv]