Timor-Leste still open to asylum seekers proposal: Australian PM

10:51, July 13, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday the Timor-Leste government was still open to hosting a regional processing center for asylum seekers, despite its parliament rejection of the plan.

The Timorese parliament on Monday rejected a proposal by the Australian government to establish a regional processing center for asylum seekers.

All parties of the Timorese government are in opposition to the proposal floated by Australian Prime Minister Gillard last week.

The parliamentary resolution passed unanimously, although only 34 of 65 Members of Parliament (MPs) were present.

Gillard on Tuesday sought to play down the vote.

"This was a vote on a resolution in the East Timorese parliament at a time that the parliament was not well-attended," Gillard told reporters in Canberra.

Australian officials held talks with their Timorese counterparts about the asylum-seeker center plan on Monday.

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