Australia may build more than one offshore refugee processing center: minister

09:52, October 14, 2010      

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Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Thursday said Indonesian authorities see great benefit in the Australian government's proposal for a regional agreement to deal with asylum seekers.

Bowen this week has travelled to Timor Leste and Indonesia to hold talks about establishing a offshore refugee processing facility, and will continue discussions about the issue in Malaysia on Thursday.

According to Bowen, East Timor is the only country the government has approached so far to host a regional processing centre, however, the federal Government will not rule in or out the prospect of building more than one processing centre.

"We're not actively contemplating other sites, but we are in discussions with East Timor, Indonesia and other regional neighbors about the model that the regional framework would take," he told ABC News, adding that there has an understanding from Indonesian officials that a regional framework and processing centre would be an important step.

"Of course as part of those discussions there's going to be various models discussed, various options looked at, and I'm not going to rule in or out those options today, that would be imprudent of me."

Bowen indicated that a proposed regional processing centre in East Timor could hold up to 2,000 people, and the concrete proposal will be developed by early next year.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's director general of immigration on Wednesday night raised concern on a regional processing centre in East Timor would lead to more asylum seekers moving through Indonesia.

Source: Xinhua


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