Communique by Fraser

Canberra, 10 October 1976

Following is the communique issued on 10 October at the conclusion of the visit to Indonesia by the Australian Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser:

At the invitation of His Excellency President Suharto, the Prime Minister of Australia the Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser, M.P., accompanied by Mrs Fraser, visited Indonesia from 7 to 11 October 1976. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Andrew Peacock, M.P., also accompanied the Prime Minister. This was the Prime Minister's first official visit to Indonesia since he took office and provided the President and the Prime Minister with the opportunity for a series of wide-ranging discussions in Jakarta, Bogor and other places on regional and global problems. These discussions were held in an atmosphere of friendly and mutual understanding and revealed a close similarity of views between the two leaders on many matters of mutual concern.

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The Prime Minister said that he regarded his visit to Indonesia for discussions with President Suharto as a positive indication of the very high importance which Australia placed on maintaining and developing further in the future the strong and close relations that had been established over the years with Indonesia. As an important element in strengthening this relationship, the Prime Minister said he placed great value on building up the personal relationship between himself and the President, which would facilitate further exchanges and mutual understanding. The President shared the Prime Minister's sentiments for the further strengthening of the existing friendly relations between the two leaders.

President Suharto and the Prime Minister outlined to each other the foreign policies of their two Governments. The Prime Minister emphasised to the President that the Australian Government sought to approach international problems in a realistic and enlightened way and to work with others in finding practical solutions to problems that arose. The two Heads of Government emphasised their conviction that Australia and Indonesia have a common interest, not only in close co-operation between themselves, but also in contributing to the development of the South-East Asian region in peace and prosperity and in harmony with the interests and aspirations of all its people.

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The President gave the Prime Minister a comprehensive briefing on the development of Indonesian policy in East Timor. He reiterated Indonesia's position on this question and recalled that Indonesia had assumed responsibility for the administration of East Timor and for the well-being of its people, after the process of decolonisation had already been completed in accordance with the wishes of the people there. The Prime Minister recalled that Australian policy on the East Timor question had been clearly set out by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) in the Parliament. He said that it is a complex question which was greatly complicated by the rapid changes in Portugal and the breakdown in that country's control and administration of East Timor.

The Prime Minister considered that the important thing now was to look to the future, and to alleviate, so far as possible, the human suffering which had come with the fighting and associated disruption in the territory. Australia had already indicated that it is prepared to help with this humanitarian task. Australia had already made over $80,000 available through the Indonesian Red Cross and a further $250,000 would be made available as required.

The Prime Minister noted that another aspect of the human suffering caused by the conflict had been the plight of the refugees who had gone to Australia without their families. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that officials of their two countries would be meeting to resolve the problems of these refugees.

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The Prime Minister expressed to the President his deep gratitude for the friendly and hospitable attention accorded him and all members of his party during their visit. Both leaders agreed that their frank and useful discussions had been very valuable. In particular, the two leaders agreed that the visit had been a success, not only in establishing close personal relations between them, but also in advancing Government to Government relations, goodwill and understanding between Indonesia and Australia. They looked forward to future meetings and expressed confidence that as a result of their talks the two countries could work together even more closely and constructively in the years ahead. The Prime Minister extended an invitation to the President and Madam Suharto to visit Australia at a convenient time. The President was pleased to accept this invitation.

[Australian Foreign Affairs Record, vol. 47, no. 10, October 1976, pp. 537-40.]