127. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting, Washington, August 12, 1975.1 2

[Omitted here is the summary of the meeting.]

[Page 2]

The secretary’s 8:00 a.m. Staff Meeting
Tuesday, August 12, 1975


  • P - Mr. Sisco
  • M - Mr. Eagleburger
  • AF Ambassador Mulcahy, Acting
  • ARA - Mr. Rogers
  • EA - Mr. Habib
  • EUR - Mr. Armitage, Acting
  • NEA - Mr. Atherton
  • INR - Mr. Hyland
  • S/P - Mr. Lord
  • EB - Mr. Enders
  • S/PRS - Mr. Funseth
  • PM - Mr. Vest
  • IO - Mr. Buffum
  • H - Mr. Jenkins, Acting
  • L - Mr. Schwebel, Acting
  • S/S - Mr. Borg, Acting
  • S - Mr. Bremer
[Page 3]



MR. SISCO: Nothing.



MR. HABIB: We have had an incomplete series of reports on a coup in Portuguese Timor, which is creating little bit of flak in Indonesia and Australia. We are not sure what happened, but evidently one of the Timorese Liberation for Independence groups has taken over the government one way or another. We don’t know what their intentions are.

The Indonesians are quite upset and are mobilizing some forces very quietly.

When the situation becomes clear, we will know whether or not it is sufficiently serious that the Indonesians will take action. It is quite clear the Indonesians will not let a hostile group — that is to say a [Page 4] Communist-dominated group — take over.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Yes. But who is that group?

MR. HABIB: As best we can tell, it is a group called the UDT, the Democratic Union of Timorese, which is not a Communist-controlled group. There is another group on the island which has some armed forces which is a Communist-dominated group.

If it is the UDT, it may very well be that the Indonesians are behind it and are not telling anybody yet. But from intercept traffic, we are not sure that the Indonesians are that fully clued in. And we will just to have to wait. We should have some more information today.

In any event, whichever way it goes, if it is an Indonesian move, or the Indonesians move against it, I think it is a situation in which we should just do nothing. It is quite obvious that the Indonesians are not going to let any hostile element take over an island right in the midst of the Indonesian archipelago.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: It is quite clear that the Indonesians are going to take over the island sooner or later.

MR. HABIB: Eventually. That is always expected. The only ones liable to react verbally will be the Australians, who will feel impaled to say something.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Why should Whitlam care about the disappearance of a vestige of colonialism?

MR. HABIB: Whitlam has said over and over again they don’t mind what happens to Portuguese Timor so long as it is with the consent of the people — and he has taken [Page 5] that high posture, and his party is on record.

As a matter of fact, he said something like that to you when he was here. And they have assumed that it eventually if it will be free, the preferable thing would be to let it stay in Portuguese hands for a couple of years while it sorts itself out.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: What does “sort itself out” mean in Timor?

MR. HABIB: The answer is until the Indonesians have organized sufficiently the Timorese into some kind of pro-Indonesian enosis group.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Aren’t you getting carried away a little bit?

MR. HABIB: It is a Greek word I learned from Tom Enders, who speaks Greek fluently. Or is that Latin you speak?

But in any event, the important thing is that we should not get ourselves sucked into this one by having opinions, unless you disagree — I mean publicly.


I think it is just made to order –

SECRETARY KISSINGER: You didn’t mean that last phrase at all.

MR. HABIB: Well, subject to your confirmation, [Page 6] I have provided the guidance yesterday we should have no

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Portuguese Timor.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, E5177, Box 8. Secret.
  2. Habib and Kissinger discussed reports of a coup in Portuguese Timor.