88 Letter from Willesee to Barnard

Canberra, 19 February 1975

SECRET

Thank you for your letter dated 11 February on the subject of Portuguese Timor.1

I am very glad to have the comprehensive analysis you have provided of the defence implications of the problem of Portuguese Timor. The problem, I agree, is of utmost importance to both of us. While there are several points on which I should probably take a different approach, the main thrust of your letter is very much in line with my own thinking. I agree that we need to renew our efforts to bring home to the Indonesians the emphasis placed in our own policy on an internationally acceptable act of self-determination in the territory, as well as on Australia's opposition to the use of military force. I also agree that these efforts need to be complemented by an attempt to promote changes in Indonesia's own policy which would help both Indonesia and Portuguese Timor by making it unnecessary for Portuguese Timor to look beyond its own region for support.

I could elaborate further on my own thinking. But perhaps a better way to proceed would be for officials from our two Departments to consult on the guidelines of what might be said to the Indonesians. The need for an early approach to them is of course obvious. Our new Ambassador to Indonesia will be arriving in Jakarta early next month. It has been my intention that the opportunity should be taken of his introductory calls to give a clear statement to the Indonesians of Australia's views on Portuguese Timor. Further opportunities to do so will also be provided by the forthcoming visit to Australia of General Surono, Deputy Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, as well as by the2 talks scheduled to take place later in the year. In addition, President Soeharto himself may be visiting Australia before the middle of the year and the visit will provide the occasion for intensive discussions like those he and the Prime Minister had in Yogyakarta in September 1974.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Prime Minister.

[NAA: All443, [14]]