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UN vote on East Timor

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No. M125 Date 20 November 1982 THE HON. TONY STREET, M.P.


Commenting today on the UN vote on East Timor, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tony Street MP, said the Government believed that it was now time for the international community to put the Timor question behind it and to look to the

future constructively and positively. In this regard its position accords with that put in the United Nations Fourth Committee last week by Mr Whitlam.

. Mr Street recalled that the Government had decided in January 1978 that it was unrealistic to refuse to recognise that East Timor is part of Indonesia. Since 1978 the Government's view had been that, as Indonesia is in effective control of East Timor,

UN resolutions on East Timor have been both unrealistic and impractical. <

The Government believed that the only realistic way to help the people of East Timor was to work through the Indonesian authorities, Mr Street said. He noted that the Government had provided over $6 million in humanitarian relief and development assistance to East Timor since 1975. Mr Street also emphasised

that the Government attached importance to the reunification of families separated by events in the province.

Mr Street said support for a UN resolution questioning Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor was now confined to less than a third of UN membership. On 15 November, a vote on the resolution was carried in the UN Fourth Committee with 48 countries voting in favour, 42 (including Australia) voting against, and 54

abstaining. This represented a further erosion in support which, he said, had been declining steadily in recent years. The resolution was opposed by the overwhelming majority of countries in the Asia- Pacific region, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, India and

Japan, as well as Indonesia's ASEAN neighbours - Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Consistent with these views, the Government hoped that the number of countries opposing the resolution on East Timor would be increased when it is voted on in plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly next week, and thus for the issue of East Timor to be removed from the United Nations' agenda.