333 Cablegram to Canberra

New York, 10 November 1975


Portuguese Timor: United Nations

Ref. OCH287823, O.CH2878241

The Department's steady pressure has obviously been helpful in bringing home to the Indonesians that they need to mount some sort of campaign at the General Assembly this year, and it is very helpful at this early stage to have the detailed guidance contained in your two reference telegrams.

  1. From our contact with the Indonesian and Portuguese Missions we know that Sani has been in touch with his delegation by telephone from Indonesia over the weekend and that the two delegations are planning to discuss at ambassadorial level after Sani returns (probably at the end of this week) coordinated approach in their statements on Timor in the Fourth Committee. This is obviously a big step forward. We understand also that the Indonesian delegation expects that Sani will bring back to New York with him a draft for the Fourth Committee.
  2. It is not clear to us whether Sani's draft (assuming one does in fact materialise) will be a consensus or resolution. We are confident that key figures like Salim would have no objection to a consensus statement on Timor as opposed to a resolution provided of course they were satisfied with the contents. On grounds of brevity and ease of handling in the Committee a consensus would as you indicate be much preferable.
  3. As to substance the pro-Fretilin Mricans will probably have two minimum demands:
    1. That unlike the evasive formulation of the Lisbon Committee ofTwenty-Four text,2 the Fourth Committee should reaffirm the right to self-determination and independence. (It can be argued that the General Assembly can do no less in the light of its repetitive annual resolutions on the Portuguese territories generally-see operative paragraph 1 of Resolution 3294 (XXIX)3: and
    2. That there should be no external interference in the decolonisation process-there might be reference to the relevant Bandung principle.
  4. As regards (A) above our feeling is strongly that the point should be volunteered by the Indonesians and not conceded by negotiation or, in the worst event, by amendment from the floor. It is consistent with Indonesia's public presentation of its case and as you know (O.UN40854) Sani has himself had this possibility in mind. Given Indonesia's willingness to play the doctrinal game here in this way, we believe most of its difficulties would be over this year. Our feeling is that Salim would in these circumstances not press for a specific reference to a Committee of Twenty-Four or other form of visiting mission, especially if the Portuguese were to indicate in their statement (which might be possible with Indonesia[n] agreement) that they proposed inviting a visiting mission at an appropriate time. The Committee of Twenty­ Four or the Secretary-General can of course respond to an invitation from the administering power without any need for approval by the General Assembly.
  5. As to points of content and drafting in your second reference telegram, in addition to what is implicit in the comments above, we feel that the draft resolution is considerably too detailed. We wonder also whether, pending developments here next week following Sani's return, you might not agree that it would be better in Jakarta this week to limit ourselves to establishing that the Indonesians are doing some drafting themselves and, if so, to wait on their initiative. We have in mind not only that Sani initiated the meeting here on 24 October but also the signs in the cable traffic, of which we have had a slight echo here, that the Indonesians may not be altogether comfortable at the prospect of talks in Darwin. They might be somewhat put out if, despite our protestations to the contrary, we now appeared to be trying to force the pace in relation to the Fourth Committee. The situation would of course be quite different if they had failed to grasp the nettle after Sani's return here.

[NAA: A1838, 906/30/14/3, i]