459 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 5 June 1976



Discussion with Indonesian Leaders

Personal for Secretary from Woolcott

Lisbon (for Cooper), New York (for Harry), Peking (for Fitzgerald)


  1. . I have reported separately General Panggabean's firm views on Timor in our JA6883.2 Mashuri said that the best solution for the East Timorese themselves would be to be 'reunited with their brothers in West Timor'. The majority of East Timorese who understood the question now wanted integration and this would come about in August. Indonesia had not repeat not sought the situation which had developed in Timor in the second part of last year, but equally could not repeat not avoid reacting to it.
  2. I raised the need for some internationally acceptable arrangements for the East Timorese to express their wishes about their own future and the need for some flexibility about handling aid to East Timor. Mashuri said no more than that the best arrangements which could be made in the circumstances would be made. If people really wanted to give aid to the East Timorese why could they not repeat not give it through the Indonesian and PGET Red Cross which knew the local needs.
  3. The President, who had heard but who had taken no part in the conversation on Timor simply said at this stage that Indonesia would act in the interests of and in response to the wishes of the majority of the people in East Timor.
  4. The President added that Indonesia's involvement in Timor was, as he had explained to Mr Peacock in May,3 motivated not by any wish for more territory but solely by considerations of national security, of assistance to a people in a territory within the Indonesian Archipelago which had been abandoned by Portugal and of regional stability.
  5. I also referred to our wish to see humanitarian aid resumed through the ICRC at this stage.
  6. The President did not react directly and changed the subject. He said that Timor was less important than other issues facing him. These were development, particularly in the rural areas, the re-distribution of incomes, the 'rectification' of the economy following Pertamina's debt problems and the forthcoming general election.

[matter omitted]

Relations with Australia

  1. On the question of relations with Australia the President said that good friends needed to show understanding to each other and make allowances for each other. It was natural that two different societies would look at the same problems in different ways. But the basis of good neighbourliness was to approach differences in a spirit of mutual understanding.
  2. I later asked Sudharmono (not in front of the President) to what extent he believed the differences over the East Timor issue could be kept apart and prevented from influencing adversely our total relationship. Sudharmono thought for some time and said that he could not repeat not answer this question directly. Good relations were built up over a period of time by a series of actions. In the Australian/Indonesian relationship the foundation stone was our support for Indonesian Independence in 1945. In the same way a relationship could be broken down by a series of unhelpful or unfriendly actions. Good friends stood by each other in times when one or the other faced an important problem and needed help. While Australia had been helpful to Indonesia in a number of respects, there was growing concern in 'some circles', as General Panggabean had told me, that Australia's actions on Timor were having the effect of damaging Indonesia. This was unfortunate. 'Friends should support their friends'.
  3. I said this was sometimes difficult in cases where it was thought that a friend had acted in a way which was contrary to established international principles. Sudharmono said blandly that Indonesia had not repeat not acted in a manner contrary to international principles. Many members of the United Nations did not repeat not really understand the whole Timor situation. Indonesia was acting in accordance with the principles of decolonisation and in the interests of the majority of the Timorese people, as well as the countries of the region. Other countries in the region such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand and India realised this.
  4. The comments reported above were made on 25th May, that is before the decision not repeat not to attend the Dili meeting was taken.

[NAA: Al0005, TS202/l/l, ANNEX 3]