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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 197

(Question No. 934)

Senator Primmer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 6 June 1984:

Has the Portuguese Government made approaches to Australia with a view to the setting up of a conference in conjunction with Indonesia, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and others, to discuss firstly a ceasefire in East Timor and then the future of that country; if so, what has been the response from the Australian Government.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

It is not correct that the Portuguese Government has made approaches to the Australian Government with a view to setting up an international conference to discuss East Timor.

The Government is aware of press reports in early April 1984 which quoted the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Mr Gama, as proposing direct negotiations between Portugal, Indonesia, Fretilin and possibly Australia over the future of East Timor. These reports are incorrect. In a letter to the Portuguese newspaper Expresso dated 7 April 1984, Mr Gama indicated that Australia was not directly involved in the East Timor issue.

The Australian Government's position remains that unless bilateral negotiations between Indonesia and Portugal can produce a solution, the principal forum for the consideration of the East Timor issue must remain the United Nations.