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Transcript 6889

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WILLESEE, 17 APRIL 1986

Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 17/04/1986

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 6889

^ APR. 18 ' 86 17: 42 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC HETWORK P. 08
STRICTLY EMbARGOED UNTIL 6.10 A/ ST
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4kyA 4 lA~ i
PRIME MINISTER
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WILLESEE 17 APRIL 1986
E 0 E PRPOOOOFF OONNLLYY
This is an unedited transcript and should be checked against
what goes tp air.
WILLESEE: danger of escalation carrying that burden
* to
PM% He is very conscious of it. One of the things that
he said to e which is sustained in thi time was that he
had spoken Ito the wives of the pilots of the plane that is
missing. And even in their time of personal tragedy that
they have expressed support for him. And he seemed to ake
some measure of comfort from that.
WILLESEE: pid you discuss the possibility of escalation
with the Preasident?
PM: Well, in the discussion that we had on the issue, not
only with him but with others Mike, there was some reference
to the possibility that there would be further attacks, iyes68
that was mentioned further terrorist attacks.
WILLESEE: How do you assess that danger?
PM1 Well, iI can't go to all the evidence available to me,
but I think there is not much grounds for optimism that there
may not be some further attacks. But what I believe needs to
be done, Mike, and this is in a modest way, the contribution
that we try to make in the United Nations, to say look the
Charter of the United Nations, which was invoked by the
United States, Article 51, does provide a range of possible
methods for trying to bring parties together. We have go,
all of us, to try and bring that about.
WILLESEEt I'll come back to that point in a moment Prime
Minister. ' How much have you seen of President Reagan's
irrefutable proof of Libyan involvement, direct involvement
in acts of terrorism.
PM: I havI seen a good deal. I saw some before I left
Australia. And I have been given a further briefing here.
II / 2
I' ' f.

APR. 18 ' 86 17: 43 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC NETWORK P. 09
WILLEBSEE Enoigh to convinoe you?
PM: Yes.
WILLESEE; Rev yOU asked the President why he doesn't reveal
that infprmatitnypublicly?
PM: I have p t to the President and others my view that it
is in the best interests, not merely of the United States, but
I would think f the whole community, that that direct evidence
should be publ c. They say they have given, if you like, a
sort of synthe is, a condensation of it. I take the view, personally,
that it is bes to have the actual material. But let me say this,
while that viel I express is an obviously sensible one, you have
got to take inito account the concerns that they have about
the exposure of their intelligence system. And it would be
presumptuous for any of us to tell, I think, the United states
what it should do in terms of some concern it has about exposing
these capacities. I can only say, in terms of my own experience,
Mike, that I ve seen the evidence, I have had some considerable
briefing. An I am convinced both as to the authenticity and
the oompelling nature of the evidence.
WILLESEE: DiO President Reagan seek public support from Australia?
PM: NO, he ddn't.
WILLESEE: Do you believe he would like it?
PMt I believe that the United States is sensible about this.
I made it clear before I left Australia, we made it clear in
our statement in the United Nations, I made it clear in the
private conversations that I have had here in the United States
which reflect our public position. What we are about is to try
and say how we see it as to what has happened and as to what should
happen in the future. The future is the important thing. Now,
our statements have been interpreted in a number of ways.
Following our statement in the United Nations, Mike, a
representativ of Libya attacked us for supporting the United
States. Befote I left Australia Mr Howard attacked us for not
supporting them. Now, I am not, as I said before I left I
Australia, going to get into some squalid auction about where
you get on some support metre. Our responsibility is to say
it as we see it. We have made it quite clear that the essential
condition for bringing to an end the tensions in the area, is
an undertaking and abiding by a comitment by Libya not to
direct acts ol terrorism.
WILLESEE: Did the President express any attitude about the
reaction to his decision from his European allies?
PM: Well, I hink it is fair to say Mike, and you will appreciate
that when you have discussions with people like the President,
there has to be a degree of confidentiality, but I think I don't
breach that c nfidentiality to say there is some sense of
disappointmenI / 3

' 7 3.
WILLESEE: Wh4t was the President's reaction to the Australian
proposal for he United Nations' intervention and the mediation?
PM: Re didn't go into that in any detail. I think the fair
statement is ihis, Mike, that the United States like the rest
of us, would like to see a resolution of this matter by one
or the other of the peaceful avenues which as identified in
Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations. Now there must
I suppose, on the evidence to this point, be some doubt about
the preparedness of Libya to give the undertakings to desist
from terroris activities. But that, as I have said in the
Parliament, a d as Mr Hayden has also said and as we have said
in the United Nations, is the essential condition for bringing
an end to this confrontation.
WILLESEE: There is one newspaper report which said that US
Government so rces disliked the Australian proposal because
" it equated Libyan terrorism with what the US sees as a
legitimate UsIresponse". Now have you come across that sort
of feeling in Washington?
PM: No, there is not an equation. And I have received no
criticism along those lines. And I think indeed, if you look
at the statemqnt I made in the Parliament and the sorts of things
that Mr Hayden has said in response to questions and the statement
made by Mr Woqlcott on Australia's behalf in the United Nations
it is quite clear where the basic emphasis is put. Andl repeat,
there can be no end to this tension, this conflict, until there
is a repudiatiIon Libya of the tactic of terrorism.
WILLESEEt Ho% many other countries supported the Australian
proposal in the Security Council?
PM: What I am given to understand Mike is this, that the Secretary-
General and the President of the Council have expressed interest
in the concept of our approach. And, I understand, without having
had identifie4 to me the particular countries but a number of
countries have expressed some interest in what we have said.
I am told that after the statement was made, there was a more
than usual interest in acquiring copies of the speech by
Mr Woolcott. There does seem to be a considerable amount of
interest. Now, whether that goes to the point that there is
sufficient support for some sort of resolution, I am simply not
in a position to say at this point.
WILLESEE: Di you discuss with President Reagan what sort
of person or Persons might play the role of mediator?
PM: No, I didn't. Indeed, nor did our statement to the United
Nations suggest that there was one nation or one particular group
of nations that should assume the role of mediator. Because after
all, Article 33 of the United Nations Charter only talked about
mediation, Mike, as one possible area. There is mediation, there
is negotiatio there there is a range of things. So Australia
didn't specifically suggest a nation or a group of nations as
mediator. / 4
9, . II.
APR. 18 ' 86 17: 45 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC NETI-. 1ORKP.

-APR. 18 ' 86 17: 46 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC NETWORK P. 11 4.
WILLESEE: Pr me Minister, it seems reasonable to presume that
the US has god quality intelligence coming out of Libya. Have
you had accesl to that?
PM: You will appreciate, Mike, that I can't breach confidentiality.
I have, in confidence, been briefed. And all I can say is two
things. Firstly, there is no doubt as to the authenticity of
the material hat I have seen. And in the light of seeing that
material and he briefing I have received, I find the evidence
compelling asjto the fact that Libya has directed, controlled
and exported terrorism against innocent civilians and that it
has prepared 4n the past fairly extensive plans for further
acts of terrorism. And my plea for what declared One Prime
Minister of one concerned nation is worth, is this that Libya
should see that in the interests of its own people and-the
interests of the region and in the interests of the world,
that the pursuit of that course can lead to nothing but disaster.
And I would plead that Colonel Gaddafi should bring an end to that
tactic, I am prepared to sit down and try resolve the areas of
differences that we have. That is the course of action that,
we believe as a government, is a responsible one. And we will
do what we can to try and produce that outcome.
WILLESEE: What is your understanding now of Colonel Gaddafi's
position in Llbya, is he under threat?
PM: I understand that since the attack there has been some
evidence of internal dissension and some fighting. But, I haven't
got up to the iIlatest hour briefing on that, Mike.
WILLESEE: Has this trip to Washington brought youmloser
personally to the American view on this issue?
PM: Well, I hink what you will see, that the statement that
was made in t~ e United Nations since I have been here and which
was made following consultations between Bill Hayden and
myself is, if lyou like, a consolidation of what I have
said in the Parliament before I left. The development that
has taken plaIe since I have been here, is that I have had
the opportunity of further briefings, which further confirm*
the evidence that I had the opportunity to see together with
Mr Hayden in Canberra before I left Australia.
WILLESEE: I gather that security surrounding you personally
is unusually strong.
PM: It seems to be fairly substantial. I can't recall, comparing
security that has been operating when I have been before, whether
it is significantly greater. I am not trying to fudge the issue,
I just really don't know. I don't personally look into these
security questions. I have extreme confidence in the competence
of my own people and their relations with their counterparts in
countries that we visit.
WILLESEE: In view of what you know now about the role of some
of Libyan People's Bureaus around the world, are you now concerned
about the presnce in Canberra of a Libyan bureau?

APR. 18 ' 86 17: 48 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC NETWORK P. 12
PM: You will appreciate that in January1 Mike, when trouble
arose previou ly, we responded positively to the request of
the United St tea to take some action that reduced the level
of representajion of the Bureau. Obviously, we will be watching
with this sit lation very closely, as indeed I believe other countries
in other part of the world are.
WILLESEES Prime Minister, you went to Washington originally to
talk about tride and especially with regard to agricultural
exports.
PM: Not only originally, but that has remained my central task
and responsibility.
WILLESEE: Briefly, have you had any result with discussiona at
this stage?
PM: I am glad you have come to the central purpose of the mission.
I can say to r y friends in rural Australia that we have received
a very positive response from the President down, all people conceraei
There is a recognition that Australia is an efficient producer of
agricultural, that we are non-subsidising of our exports and that
we donit deserve to be hurt, affected adversely by any action
which the Uni~ ed States undertakes against the impact of the
Europeans. And so what we have confirmed and built upon the
work originaliy done by Mr Dawkins by Mr Dawkins earlier in the
year here, welhave created a clear framework of consultation
and capacity for discussion with the United States so that we
can consistently now put into those who are making decisions
about the imp1 ementation of their own programs, we can put into
them our concjrns. So we have got that. Secondly, we
have the unequivocal agreement of the President and others
here that they will take a lead in trying to ensure that in
the multi-lateral trade negotiations which commence later
this year, that they will make every attempt to have agriculture
right up there on the agenda so that togqther we can try and bring
about a situation where the present corruption of international
trade in agricultural products would gradually be brought to an
end.
WILLESEE: How confident are you that that will happen?
I
PM: I am totally confident, Mike, that the United States will
take the lead in this. That together we will attempt to produce
that result in the rounds. We have to realistically
acknowledge that there will be some opposition to having
agriculture up front like that in some quarters, including at
least some of the Europeans. But we have got to do is to try and
get across an understanding that this corruption of the international
Australian agriculture is not merely against the interests of
efficient pro4ucers like Australia but it is fundamentally against
the interests of the Europeans themselves because the misallocation
of resources which is involved in the vast millions of dollars
into the subs disation of agriculture means that they have got
a misallocati n of resources, which means that there is something / 6

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9PR. 18 ' 86 17: 49 AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATIC NETWORK
1 4933 / i 6.
PM contt like a million and a half less Europeans in mploy ant
than there othirwise would be. It means their growth rate is
less than it o herwise would be. They are paying, the ordinary
people of Europe, are paying a very high price for this policy
of the CAP. Ad we have got to get that message across.
WILLESEE: Pr . a Minister, thanks very much for your time.
PM1 Thanks Mie.
ends P. 13

Transcript 6889