405 Cablegram to Canberra

New York, 23 January 1976


East Timor and the United Nations

Although there has been a temporary lull in the United Nations consideration of East Timor, it can be expected to come under active discussion again in the coming weeks. The Territory still remains on the agenda of the Committee of 24 and Portugal is already approaching various members of the Committee to ensure that it receives early consideration. We also understand from the Indonesians that the Secretary-General's representative (Winspeare) will be returning from Jakarta via Geneva to New York to present his report to the Security Council in mid­ February, when a further debate could follow.

  1. In both these United Nations exercises we would like to be able to be in a position to assist the Indonesians as much as possible as we did last year in the Fourth Committee, where we succeeded in securing some dilution of the language critical of Indonesia in the General Assembly Resolution, and in the Security Council where the Australian suggestion for a representative of the Secretary-General to visit East Timor (as distinct from a visiting mission from the Security Council or the Committee of 24) was eventually adopted unanimously.
  2. The only information we have received so far on Winspeare's visit in Timor has been from the Indonesian Mission here and we have no details of his talks with the Indonesian Government. Similarly, we have only seen Radio Australia reports of the Minister's recent talks with Mr Malik in Jakarta and would appreciate further details. Any information which Jakarta could provide on the progress ofWinspeare's visit to East Timor, his discussions with the Indonesian Government and the likely contents of his report to the Security Council would be of assistance in preparing the ground work here for any further United Nations consideration of East Timor.
  3. The principle guidance we need is on the question of the withdrawal of Indonesian volunteers, the likely timing and circumstances of the proposed act of self determination and the degree of United Nations observation or supervision which would be acceptable. It would not be realistic to suppose that the Committee of 24 will not test Indonesian compliance with the General Assembly Resolution. The same applies to the Security Council in connection with its own unanimous Resolution. Our friends in both bodies will as in the past look to us for some views, at least privately, on the situation in East Timor and on Indonesian intentions. Most of them will be only too anxious to accept Indonesian assurances if it is reasonably clear that the people of East Timor have accepted or at least are not stoutly resisting integration. Naturally this is a question on which we shall need fairly detailed instructions if we are to have any significant influence.


[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/1111, xx]