242 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 25 September 1975


Portuguese Timor

Jakarta (for Woolcott); UN New York (for Minister and Harry)

Prompted by para 6 of Jakarta's O.JA20731 I sought an urgent interview with the Director of Political Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Dr Malaghaes Cruz.

  1. I referred to my long talk with Santos on 17 September, when he outlined to me his plan for achieving a political solution of the Timor problem, an essential element of which was the integration of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia provided this could be achieved by internationally acceptable means.2 I recalled that Santos had said that his plan had been endorsed by the President and Foreign Minister, and the latter had subsequently assured me that the Santos plan was now the considered policy of the Portuguese Government. I asked Cruz specifically to confirm that the objective of integration with Indonesia was an essential feature of the plan. Cruz said that it was.
  2. I then told Cruz that I had reason to believe that in reporting to Jakarta on his talks with Santos and the President, the Indonesian Ambassador had not mentioned the integration aspect. As Cruz would appreciate, this omission could have serious consequences so far as Jakarta's attitude to the Santos plan was concerned. Cruz agreed.
  3. I also recalled that Santos had told me that they intended to enlist Indonesian support for the plan through both the Indonesian Ambassador in Lisbon and the Portuguese Charge d'Affaires in Jakarta. Had Girao been instructed in this sense? Cruz said he would have to check the papers as he had been on leave last week but his impression was that Girao had not (repeat not) been so instructed. I pointed out that, in that case, the Indonesians had apparently not yet been officially informed of the Portuguese Government's conclusion (which we shared) that integration of Portuguese Timor with Indonesia was in the best long term interests of all concerned. Cruz undertook to follow up urgently.


  4. When it comes to deviousness, it seems that there is little to choose between the Portuguese and the Indonesians. For reasons best known to himself, my Indonesian colleague has apparently not passed on to Jakarta the most essential aspect (from Indonesia's point of view) of the Santos plan, despite the fact that without it Indonesia would have little incentive to support the plan. The omission could not have been due to any misunderstanding on Say's part, because when I discussed the plan with him, including the integration aspect, he agreed that Santos had spoken to him in identical terms.
  5. Then there is the incredible fact (if it is a fact) that, contrary to what Santos told me, Girao has not even been advised of the essential elements of the plan or instructed to make representations in support of it. Given Girao's comments about Santos (as reported in O.JA1958)3 one can only speculate as to whether Girao enjoys the confidence of his own government.
  6. I also took the opportunity to raise with Cruz the references to Australia in the Decolonisation Committee's communique on which I shall report separately.4


[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, xiv]