78 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 6 February 1975



Santos called me in this afternoon to say that the Decolonisation Commission (consisting of the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Melo Antunes and himself) had considered and approved his proposals. His preference would be for a secret meeting in London on either 12, 13, or 14 February but he was of course flexible as to timing.

  1. I said that I had not yet received your comments on his proposals but expected to do so shortly. Santos said he would be out of town over the weekend but would get in touch with me on his return next week. I said I hoped that I would have had an indication of your views by then.
  2. As a purely personal comment I referred to the publicly expressed opposition by UDT/ Fretilin to the inclusion of either Indonesia or Australia in any UN supervisory role in Timor. This suggested that the two parties might be less than enthusiastic about the Minister's plan to associate both countries with Timor's economic development. Santos took the point but said he did not anticipate any difficulty in convincing both groups that independence without the willing co-operation of Indonesia would be illusory. It would also be important to associate Australia with the plan.
  3. I said I was sure that an essential element for both governments would be an internationally acceptable act of self determination. When did Santos envisage this taking place? The Minister said the important thing would be to get the two parties to participate in a transitional government to be followed iri due course by an election to a constituent assembly. This could take place towards the end of this year or next depending on developments. He repeated his earlier assertion that Apodeti would 'disappear'.
  4. I referred to the difficulty of keeping the proposed tripartite meeting secret and to the embarrassment to all three governments if it became public knowledge. Santos said there was no difficulty as far as he was concerned. He would simply go to London and book himself into an hotel without making any contact with his own embassy. He had done this on previous occasions without any difficulty.
  5. I asked about Pires' movements. (We had heard from an American source that he was already en route to Lisbon). Santos said he would not allow Pires to go to Jakarta but had in mind to summon him to Lisbon later this month but not before the proposed tripartite meeting had taken place.
  6. I undertook to contact Santos when I had heard from you.


[NAA: A10005, 202/1/3, v]