53-Cablegram-to-Canberra

Lisbon, 25 October 1974

O.LB491 CONFIDENTIAL ROUTINE

Timor

I think we are now in general agreement that the essential difference between Portuguese and Indonesian thinking is that whereas the former do not see incorporation with Indonesia as necessarily a desirable objective per se, they will nevertheless not actively oppose it as (natural) long term option. The Indonesians, on the other hand, are thinking of a much shorter time scale and one that would preclude the independence concept from becoming too deeply rooted in Timorese thinking. In other words the Portuguese appear to envisage independence (following a period of continued association) as a necessary step on the road to possible eventual incorporation.

  1. There are however one or two points of detail which call for comment-
    1. Contrary to the suggestion in para 2 of Jakarta's O.JA55011 when he was in Lisbon Ali Murtopo was quite confident that there was already a majority in favour of incorporation. We can only assume that his advisers have subsequently convinced him otherwise.
    2. Ali also appears to have erred in telling us that relations with Lisbon would be established initially at the level of consul-general (Jakarta's O.JA54912 refers). At the time we saw Ali he had not of course talked to Gomes and Goncalves.
    3. I have not yet spoken to Almeida Santos but propose to try to draw him further on such matters as the pace of decolonisation and the role of constituent assembly and also on his ideas about promoting the concept of an overseas Portuguese community.3

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, iii]