87 Cablegram to Jakarta

Canberra, 17 February 1975


Portuguese Timor

Ref O.JA76401

You will have seen Lisbon's LB718.2 We agree that you should let the Indonesians know what we have said to the Portuguese on the question of aid. Indeed there is probably value now in informing the Indonesians of the full exchange with Santos including: (a) his proposal for a secret meeting; (b) our understanding that a similar approach is to be made to Indonesia; (c) our response.

  1. You should take the Indonesians carefully through the points in paragraphs 1-7 (as well as 9) of our CH1727333 stressing that our offer to consider a modest aid program was made very much with the view to encouraging the Portuguese to resist pressures for rapid disengagement from P. Timor.
  2. In regard to the points made in your JA7640, while not discounting the potential problems with the Indonesians, we do not see that it would be practicable, or wise, to back-track from what our Ambassador in Lisbon has told Dr Santos. To do so could merely lay the dynamite for future Portuguese disillusion. You should say to the Indonesians, however, that it would certainly not be in our thinking that Australian aid should help or give encouragement to UDT/Fretilin. It follows that the nature, procedures, channels and ultimate timing for implementing an Australian aid program would require careful consideration. We would hope this consideration would be enlightened by further consultations with Indonesia.
  3. As will emerge from separate advice shortly to be sent in regard to the Ambassador's forthcoming introductory calls, we have in mind developing a generally more positive approach to the Indonesians on P. Timor, one element of which will be that willingness of Australia and Indonesia to extend a helping hand to the territory might be the best way of 'containing' any problems which it might pose to the region.4

[NAA: Al838, 49/211/1, v]