United Nations: Portuguese Timor
Sani met with other ASEAN delegations, Australia (myself and Campbell) New Zealand, Fiji and Japan at ambassadorial level on 24 October to brief them on the Indonesian position on Timor. He informed the meeting that he would be participating in the talks in Rome on I and 2 November then return to Jakarta for consultations and possibly take an on-the-spot look at Timor.
- Sani said that while the immediate objective was to keep Timor a regional question and avoid premature discussion in the UN he wanted the ASEAN-plus group to be well informed with a view to regional participation in the eventual United Nations consideration of the Timor problem in the Fourth Committee with perhaps participation on a wider basis thereafter. He stressed that his approach was informal only and he proposed to follow-up on his return from Jakarta subject to any instructions from the Indonesian Government on regional participation which he might by then have received. The group reacted sympathetically but cautiously; several suggestions were made that it should be put to the Portuguese in Rome that there was a regional interest amongst delegations concerned in New York and that they would look to Portugal to discharge its responsibilities in relation to Timor, seeking any necessary help in restoring order from countries in the region and not simply putting the problem in the lap of the U.N.
- Sani made some persistent but friendly digs at Australia over our reluctance to become involved in the problem, but indicated nevertheless that Australia had been following the situation very closely with Indonesia and Portugal. I expressed our hope that Indonesia and Portugal would succeed in working out in Rome a plan for restoration of order, and resumption of decolonisation with all the parties involved. I agreed with the objective of confining the problem to the region as long as possible.
[NAA: A10463, 801113/11/1, xv]