479 Cablegram to Canberra

New York, 7 July 1976


East Timor: Committee of Twenty-Four

Ref 0.UN59431

We have spoken to the Indonesian Mission and to Minchin (Acting Secretary, Committee of Twenty-Four) about the Secretariat working paper on Timor.

  1. The Indonesians are unhappy with what they term the 'anti-Indonesian bias' of the working paper. They point to the fact that the paper was prepared by a Chinese member of the Secretariat. We understand that Ambassador Sani's first reaction was to write to the Secretary-General complaining about paper's bias. The Indonesian Mission, however, has taken the alternative course of drawing to the attention of Minchin by letter specific Indonesian complaints about the paper, in the expectation that the Secretariat will issue a corrigendum or an addendum or even a completely revised working paper.
  2. In speaking to Minchin we made clear our own surprise that the Secretariat's working paper referred to the position of the Australian Government. We noted that the Australian Government had sought from the beginning to make clear that it did not consider itself a party principal to the affairs of Timor. We said we were surprised to see such a reference to Australia when many other countries had participated, for example, in the Security Council's debates on Timor. We went on to say that we were furthermore dissatisfied with the way in which the paper described the Australian Government's position. It seemed to us an unsatisfactory summary of the Ambassador's statement in the Council in December last year.2
  3. Minchin said that he took our point and he noted that the Indonesian mission had also just forwarded to him extensive comments on the working paper. He said he believed the Secretariat would have to produce a corrigendum or an addendum (or, perhaps, both) to the original working paper. Whether this further document would be a corrigendum or an addendum (or both) would depend principally on the number and nature of revisions to the paper sought by delegations. He did not hold out the hope that a full revision would be possible. He said he would welcome our comments in writing, including our preferred phrasing of paragraph 40 of the working paper.
  4. We clarified with Minchin what Salim's plans were for the Timor item, commenting that Salim had told us that the Timor item would have to be 'dealt with'. Minchin said that Salim wanted to see the East Timor question referred to the Fourth Committee without a debate. Salim would have a legitimate reason for doing so because the Committee was far behind in its work. A full debate was therefore most unlikely.
  5. Since it appears that the Timor item will be referred directly to Fourth Committee without debate, the Secretariat paper will then become sole contribution of Committee of 24 to Fourth Committee's consideration of Timor.
  6. I would suggest, therefore, that I write to Minchin expressing dissatisfaction with the formulation of paragraph 40 of the working paper and propose, as a corrigendum, a new formulation of this paragraph, which could simply reiterate the four points of Australian policy on Timor, namely calls for:
    1. an end to hostilities
    2. the withdrawal of all outside forces
    3. a genuine act of self determination
    4. resumption of international humanitarian aid to the territory.

Now that Australia is already mentioned in the working paper, we see some disadvantages in seeking to have reference to us removed. We can see to it, however, that our position is accurately described for the record.


[NAA: Al0463, 801/13/11/1, xxiv]