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Australia welcomes reopen of Papua New Guinea detention center

(Xinhua)

16:19, August 12, 2011

CANBERRA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday welcomed decision to reopen Manus Island immigration detention center in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

PNG's new Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, early on Friday announced he has secured approval from his cabinet to reopen the asylum-seeker detention center to be run by Australian officials on Manus Island.

The development is welcome news to the Australian federal government struggling to deal with unauthorized asylum-seeker boat arrivals in Australia.

Julia Gillard welcomed the news and thanked O'Neill for promptly considering the request.

"Arrangements are being made for a high-level delegation of Australian officials to travel to Papua New Guinea in the very near future to finalize a memorandum of understanding regarding the center,"Gillard told reporters in Canberra.

"We are committed to working in partnership with Papua New Guinea to examine how such a center might operate, including how it might best complement broader regional activities."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen had a message for those asylum seekers and any who arrive from now.

"You may be sent to Malaysia or Papua New Guinea, but you're not going to be processed in Australia," he told ABC Radio.

Bowen said the arrangement to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing will complement the government's refugee swap deal with Malaysia, and it would be several weeks before the Manus Island center became operational after an extended period of abandonment.

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