Letter from Menzies to Salazar

Canberra, 8 February 1963

Joint Statement

I wrote to you on the 18th October, 1961 in connection with the consideration at the United Nations of certain questions of special concern to the Portuguese Government, in particular that of the situation in Angola. On that occasion you did me the courtesy of replying at length, dealing not only with the points raised in my letter but explaining the philosophy, in matters concerning overseas territories, of the Portuguese Government and of yourself as its distinguished leader for so many years.

I have studied your letter with great care and have noted that there is a great difference between our respective approaches, though I would still hope that at some stage we might yet bring our approaches closer together.

However, it is not my purpose to pursue that particular aspect further at this stage. My object in writing to you, as a friend of Portugal is to let you know that the views which I indicated in my last letter to you-notably, support of the principle of self-determination for all peoples-will continue to govern the approach of the Australian representative on the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on the Implementation of the Declaration on Colonialism, of which, as you know, Australia is a member.

Though the Committee has not yet considered its programme of work for the current year, I would think it probable that it may again pay some attention to Portuguese territory in Africa, and that it may also discuss the future of Portuguese Timor. It would be difficult for Australia to refrain entirely from taking part in such a debate. Portuguese Timor is geographically close to Australia and has a land frontier with the people of Indonesian Timor. My Government is concerned that, in the absence of any intention of allowing the Timorese people to express a choice as to the international relationships and status which they desire, there will arise a serious threat to the peace of the Territory.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my high consideration.

[NAA: A1838, 3038/10/1, ii]