268 Cablegram to Jakarta

Canberra, 17 October 1975,4.58 p.m.

O.CH279966 SECRET AUSTEO PRIORITY

Portuguese Timor

For Woolcott

Thank you for your O.JA2461.1

We believe that it is important that, while expressing to the Indonesians, our appreciation for being kept informed of their intentions, we now register again with the Indonesians our views on military intervention.

  1. We should therefore like you to express at an appropriate level-as Tjan and Moerdani have provided the most immediate information we leave this for you to decide—the Government's extreme disappointment that the Indonesian Government has in the end seen it as being necessary to resort to large—scale military intervention. You should add that our position has been firm throughout in terms of seeing integration as the best outcome of a process of decolonisation, provided that this were also the wish of the Timorese people themselves. But we should have hoped Indonesia would have persisted in attempts to achieve its objective through diplomatic means.
  2. In making these points to the Indonesians, we should like you to say that your remarks should be taken as a formal expression of disapproval of Indonesia's actions and that it is likely that the Australian Government would need to refer to this fact in the inevitable public debate that would follow in Australia when the full extent of Indonesian involvement in Portuguese Timor becomes public knowledge.
  3. You should say further that on the basis of information provided by the Indonesians and our own independent assessments, we believe that the Indonesians could be under-estimating the political strength and will of FRETILIN and the degree of resistance FRETILIN is likely to mount. In our view FRETILIN forces are capable of sustaining a resistance sufficient to force Indonesia into a level of military intervention which Indonesia may not now foresee and which in any event could not be credibly disavowed. Indonesian involvement would become more exposed the deeper the penetration.
  4. While it seems clear that the Indonesians are not to be deflected from their immediate military purposes, it is still in our view most important, in view of the uncertainties which lie ahead, that they should be pursuing other options including new rounds of talks, preparing for UN involvement, and possibly bilateral dealings with FRETILIN-and not just for 'presentation reasons'. Australian policy has acknowledged and respected Indonesia's major interests and we should hope that Indonesian policy will be developed flexibly and responsibly in the light of the evolving local and international realities.

WOOLCOTT

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