Indonesia unlikely to support Australia's asylum seeker plan: media

19:58, July 15, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's plan for a regional refugee processing hub in Timor Leste (East Timor) has received another setback, with Indonesia failing to show support for the proposal, local media reported on Thursday.

As Gillard again rejected Nauru as an option for the processing centre, citing political instability in the tiny Pacific nation, Indonesian officials appeared to be only lukewarm on the proposal to locate a processing centre in East Timor.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith briefed his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on the proposal during talks in Jakarta on Thursday.

Asked later if Indonesia supported the plan, Natalegawa was non- committal.

"Further conversations are still to be had on this issue," Natalegawa told Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Natalegawa said he agreed there was a need for a better regional framework to deal with people smuggling and asylum seekers, of which a processing centre was a "potential component".

"I can understand the rationale," he said, but would not be drawn on the specifics of a location.

Smith said their discussions on the topic were "productive".

"This is something we will progress in the weeks ahead," he told AAP.

In an address to the National Press Club on Thursday, Gillard said that even if Nauru was willing to sign the UN refugee convention, political problems in the tiny island country meant it was unlikely to happen "if at all".

"As people would probably be aware the political circumstances in Nauru are that it has a deadlocked parliament. It is effectively in caretaker (mode) with no active government," Gillard said.

The opposition has urged Gillard to consider Nauru, which was used to house asylum seekers under the former Howard government's Pacific Solution.

East Timor has refused to host the regional processing cetre.

Source: Xinhua


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