Minute from Rowland to Waller

Canberra, 14 January 1963


I have some difficulty with this.1

  1. I imagine that we would be wise to think carefully about what we say about Portuguese Timor (at this moment especially) to the Portuguese. You know more about this than I, but-
    1. to preach self-determination in Timor at this moment, picking out this territory for special emphasis, may look like a declaration that we would be happy to see the island go to Indonesia and would do nothing to resist this. This may (or may not!) be the case, but do we want to tell the Portuguese so? I gather from this morning's telegrams that Indonesian activities are already in train so that such an indication of attitude by us would at least need careful drafting.
    2. To correspond with the Portuguese about Timor at all is likely to produce a response: the last letter to Dr Salazar produced an invitation to inspect Portuguese territory, which we have not taken up. Any letter of ours may look like a declaration of interest in the island's future and be open to interpretation as an indication of readiness to exchange words with the Portuguese about it. Do we want this?
  2. In short, I wonder if it is not already late for the sort of thing the Minister has in mind, as regards Timor. Our approach to Portuguese territories in general is made fairly clear in Mr Menzies last letter.2 What do we want the Portuguese to do in Timor?3
  3. I have dictated, as a chopping block, a shorter version of your draft. The Katanga parallel need not worry us too much, I suppose, but we have supported the United Nations approach and have said so in United Nations debates, I think.


Acting Assistant Secretary

[NAA: Al838, 3038/10/1, ii]