444 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 15 April 1976


Visit to Indonesia

For Prime Minister from Peacock

I believe my visit here has gone well.

  1. The President received me warmly and we had a discussion lasting just on an hour which I am reporting by separate cable. I handed your letter1 to him and it is clear that he is looking forward to your visit.
  2. I believe I have succeeded in maintaining our stand on principle in respect of Timor without doing unacceptable damage to our longer term relations. In fact all of those with whom I had talks agreed that the Timor issue needs to be seen in proper perspective and that it should not be allowed to affect our wide ranging and good relations in other areas.
  3. There is no sign of any change in Indonesian policy and it is clear that they are proceeding, with the apparent support of the PGET, towards the formal integration of East Timor into Indonesia in August. We were told that it is planned that representatives of the thirteen districts in East Timor will assemble in Dili in May to seek formally Indonesian agreement to integration.
  4. The Ministers made a coordinated attempt to secure, if not our tacit support for their concerns in Timor, then at least our sympathetic understanding for their position. This point was made politely by the President and more directly by Minister of Defence, Panggabean. It was also made by Malik and Communications Minister Salim.
  5. Salim also said that both Governments should act more forcefully to give effect to rhetoric about good relations. He spoke particularly about possible damage to trade and shipping between the two countries which, he said, continuing union bans on, and discrimination against, Indonesian shipping could cause.
  6. The Indonesians are worried about the growth of hostility in certain sections of the Australian community towards Indonesia. They maintain that this is not in the long term interest of either country. I agreed with this and did my best to explain to them the facts of life in a democratic society.
  7. My talks with Defence Minister Panggabean were, as I said, forthright. He maintained that Indonesia's actions were in conformity with the wishes of the majority of the East Timorese as well as in those of the region itself. He maintained that Indonesia's motives for intervention related to national security and not in any desire for territorial expansion. I put our own position on Indonesian military involvement in East Timor and the problems this has created in Australia with equal force. It was, I believe, a forthright and useful exchange. I believe that while General Panggabean was pressing for changes of attitude on our part, he nevertheless accepts the importance to Indonesia of good relations with Australia and our view that we should not permit the Timor issue to affect adversely our wide ranging bilateral relationship in other areas.

[matter omitted]

  1. I also had useful private talks outside of the official programme with Ali Murtopo and General Yoga.
  2. Generally I believe the visit has been successful and worthwhile. The announcement on aid and my calls on the 'technocrat' Ministers were useful in helping to move the present rather e[x]cessive forces2 of our relations with Indonesia on Timor to the much wider nature of this important relationship.
  3. You may like to see my full records of conversation with Malik, Panggabean, Widjojo, Salim and Mochtar and these will be available to you after Easter.

[NAA: A1838, 3038/13/10/1, iv]