258 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 13 October 1975

O.JA2376 SECRET AUSTEO PRIORITY

Portuguese Timor

We have received from Tjan today, 13 October, more details of the Indonesian assistance to anti-Fretilin forces in Portuguese Timor reported in JA.2161 of 30 September.1

  1. One of the unanswered questions relating to the Indonesian operation in Portuguese Timor has concerned timing. As you know, the Indonesians had indicated to us earlier that no final deadline had been set. Tjan then recently told us that the operation should be completed by March next year. Ali Murtopo has recently spoken in terms of the end of this year (JA.23352). Tjan has now told us that the objective was to complete the main operation by the middle of next month (including UDT/Apodeti's occupation of Dili). It was possible, however, that because of the problem oflndonesia's providing logistical support (without it being observed) and the setting-in of the wet season at this time, the anti-Fretilin forces would not complete their task until sometime in December.
  2. Tjan said that the main thrust of the operation would begin on 15 October. It would be through Balibo and Maliana/Atsabe. (He was vague on the details.)
  3. Tjan said that the President had recently approved a special budget for the Portuguese Timor operation. We in fact know this from other sources. (As previously reported, the President had earlier declined to do so.) Tjan observed that this was a major development. The absence of a special budget had been a handicap and had slowed down the implementation of the operation.
  4. The President in approving the budget had made it clear that 'no Indonesian flag' could ever be used in the operation.

Comment

  1. Tjan has been extraordinarily frank in informing us in advance of Indonesian plans. We have no reason to doubt that he is and has been giving us accurate information.3 On this basis it is clear that Indonesia is determined to prevent Fretilin consolidating its hold on East Timor and that, while Indonesia may for presentational reasons go along with talks with Portugal or between the parties and with possible United Nations activity, its basic objective from which it is showing no signs of being deterred, remains the integration of East Timor with Indonesia with as little cost to Indonesia's international reputation as possible.

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