Australia resumes talks with six countries to resettle asylum seekers

February 20, 2016 06:48

SYDNEY - Australia is in talks with Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, among six nations, to resettle asylum seekers detained in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island nation of Nauru, the Sydney Morning Herald said on Saturday.

The number of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia is small in comparison with those arriving in Europe, but border security is a hot-button political issue in Australia, which is scheduled to hold a national election later in the year.

Negotiations with the governments of the three Southeast Asian countries focus on potentially settling 1,459 detainees, many of whom arrived during previous administrations, the newspaper said.

Three other countries are also involved in preliminary stages of talks, it added, but did not identify them.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to confirm or deny the report.

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