20 July 2004

Clinton minds the Gap

What was Bill Clinton saying about the US Administration not getting involved in Australian politics?

Following Denton's interview with Clinton, to be screened on the ABC tonight, the pair chatted about East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, and his appearance on Enough Rope . Despite the cameras still rolling, the intriguing portion of the interview can't be shown because the pair were standing out of frame. However, Spike has a transcript, which certainly makes for interesting reading:

Clinton: "I'm glad you liked Horta. I liked him, too."

Denton : "Oh, he was very, very impressive."

Clinton: "Yeah, he's good. Very supportive. That whole crowd, all those guys are, you know, the top two or three guys are interested people."

Denton: "They are and ... you know they're such a fragile nation."

Clinton: "Um, if they resolve that [Timor Gap oil and gas] dispute."

Denton: "It certainly would. I'm not sure if this administration."

Clinton: "Yeah. You guys can cut them a little slack and, you know, a little bit of money will go a long way there and if we could get enough money through that to give them some infrastructure, I have talked to hotels over the world I think you could make it sort of, like, the middle-class vacation destination for a lot of South-East Asia because you could keep the costs down so low."

The whole interview is online now. Cutting them a little slack is precisely what the Australian government refuses to do. In the short term this means East Timor continues as the largest aid donor to Australia. In the long term, it means the Timorese are condemned to be a client state just like the others we're developing in the South Pacific.

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