Subject: RT: Indonesia vowed never to invade E.Timor - report
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 18:37:11 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

March 11, 9:38 p.m. ET

Indonesia vowed never to invade E.Timor - report

SYDNEY, March 12 (Reuters) - Indonesia told Australia in 1975 that it would never invade the Portuguese colony of East Timor -- only eight months before it sent troops into the territory, The Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

The daily also reported that Portugal had told Jakarta before the invasion that it preferred Indonesia to assume control of its colony, but only if East Timorese agreed.

The Australian's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, said the revelations were in a secret record of conversations between then Indonesian President Suharto and then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in Townsville, Australia between April 3-5, 1975.

``President Suharto reaffirmed that Indonesia had no territorial ambitions to include the territory of Portuguese Timor into the Republic of Indonesia,'' wrote Whitlam in an official record of the conversations, The Australian said.

``The president said that, as a country which endorsed the principles of freedom and democracy, Indonesia would never contemplate such a course of action,'' Whitlam added.

The Australian said Suharto briefed Whitlam on Indonesia-Portugal talks over East Timor in London, which showed Portugal believed Indonesia should take over the territory, but an act of self-determination should be held to legitimise it.

``The Portuguese had said that they believed that integration with Indonesia was the best outcome,'' Whitlam wrote.

Portugal did not believe East Timor had developed the ``mature'' political leaders to handle independence, he said.

Portugal began a policy of decolonisation in 1974 and withdrew its governor from East Timor in August 27, 1975.

After a brief civil war in 1975 the left-wing Fretilin party declared East Timor independent. But in December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor. It annexed the territory the following year.

The United Nations does not recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor. Australia is the only Western nation to recognise Jakarta's rule over East Timor.

Last week, The Australian published a February 1975 letter from Whitlam to Suharto which warned Indonesia against invading East Timor. Australia said it believed the territory would be better off under Jakarta's rule only if the East Timorese agreed.

An estimated 200,000 people -- a third of the East Timor population - died during the 1975 military crackdown and famine which followed.

The Australian said on Friday that Suharto had feared that Australian communists were sending arms to Fretilin.

But Whitlam told Suharto that Australian communists had little money to finance such an arms operation.

``Communist elements in Australia had been hostile towards Indonesia and had sought to create a rift between the two countries,'' Whitlam wrote. ``Their support for independence for Portuguese Timor was another move in this play.''

Whitlam also said Australians were prone to over-react to developments in East Timor and viewed Indonesia with unwarranted suspicion.

The Australian people ``had been shown to be overly nervous and fearful of Indonesia,'' Whitlam wrote.

After a 23-year guerrilla war for independence by Fretilin, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie in January offered East Timor autonomy or independence by January 2000.

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