199 Cablegram to Canberra

Washington, 28 August 1975


Portuguese Timor

The Indonesian Embassy at Washington has sounded out the State Department at country desk level as to the likely United States reaction to Indonesian intervention in Timor. The Embassy was told that no problem was foreseen, provided that Indonesia intervened at the invitation of the Portuguese. American reactions in the absence of such an invitation were not entirely predictable and would be influenced by the circumstances surrounding the intervention. The possible pitfalls in relation to United States aid, by analogy with the Turkey/Cyprus situation, were pointed out to the Embassy. State Department recognised, however, that the situation in Timor was different from that which had obtained in Cyprus. The integration of Timor with Indonesia represented the solution to the decolonisation of Portuguese Timor that was logically most attractive to the United States. The difficulty lay in finding an acceptable way of achieving this solution.

  1. The foregoing views were put to the Indonesian Embassy in light of American knowledge that Costa Gomes had decided on 27th August that, for domestic reasons, he could not afford to invite Indonesia to intervene to restore order in Timor.State Department intended deliberately to convey to the Embassy a softening in the United States attitude towards the possibility of Indonesian intervention.


  2. The United States official community seems to have come to feel that the Indonesians have a better understanding than previously of the domestic constraints on the Administration, and to hope that they will carry out a clean and effective operation in Timor that will not cause the Administration undue domestic difficulties.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, xii]