32 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 16 September 1974


Portuguese Timor


In retrospect, I think it is a pity that the President did not spell out to the Prime Minister the difference between the substance of the Indonesian position, which was conveyed frankly to the Prime Minister as a friend, and the attitude which the Indonesian Government judges that it is advisable to adopt publicly as the best course designed to achieve the desired objective of union with Indonesia.

  1. The problem here is that there are divided views, below the President, as to how far Indonesia should come out openly in support of the objective of association with Indonesia. Sudharmono's caution is more than shared by the Foreign Ministry, although it is apparent from a talk with Harry Tjan this morning that he would not share their misgivings about your expressing, in an unattributable document, Indonesian objectives in terms as clear cut as those in the paper on Portuguese Timor.
  2. I had not realised that you proposed to issue the paper before giving Sudharmono an opportunity to comment on it, in view of its references to Indonesian policy. I am reluctant to go back to him again since I do not expect that he will change his line. I think it best to let the matter lie unless he should raise it with me again in the future.2
  3. In view of the differences within Indonesia, I suggest that caution is still required about any public references to Indonesian policy. I appreciate that this presents a problem for you in relation to your expression of Australian policy. Could we not, however, welcome (rather than accept) a possible future decision in favour of union with Indonesia and, in so doing, refer delicately to the reasons for welcoming such a decision?
  4. Tjan this morning spoke appreciatively of your decision to raise the question of Portuguese Timor in Lisbon3 and of the prospect of a statement by Mr Whitlam in Parliament. As you will have seen from my conversation with Yoga (our JA4767),4 the Indonesians are still not certain as to how quickly they themselves should move; and they are unlikely to formulate a flrm strategy until after they themselves have talked to the Portuguese and have assessed the outcome of the soundings that they are currently seeking.5


[NAA: Al838, 3038/1011, x]