Australia seeks support for refugee plan

AUSTRALIA wants to convene a multinational conference on people smuggling this year in which support will be sought for the Prime Minister’s controversial proposal for a regional refugee processing centre.The plan for the ministerial meeting of the Bali Process forum, tentatively scheduled for November, is expected to be revealed today when the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, meets his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa.Mr Smith was due to arrive in Jakarta last night for a round of meetings, including his first opportunity to brief Mr Natalegawa about the hastily conceived proposal for the centre, which Australia wants in East Timor.Indonesia, Australia’s most important partner in fighting human trafficking, has yet to state its position on the centre and the favoured location of East Timor, citing a lack of information.Mr Smith rejected suggestions Indonesia had not been consulted properly, or that there were signs it may be hostile to the processing centre in East Timor.Australia and Indonesia are joint leaders of the Bali Process forum, a grouping of more than 40 countries and a dozen institutions such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.Since its last ministerial meeting in April last year the number of asylum seekers moving through Indonesia to Australia by boat has surged, prompting the new federal strategy.The interception yesterday morning of the 77th boat to arrive in Australia waters this year brought the number of irregular migrants on such vessels to 3691 this year.Meanwhile, a newspaper report that a ”senior al-Qaeda linked figure” was detained in Indonesia en route by boat to Australia has been dismissed as based on scant evidence.
Nanjing Night Net

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