30 Apr 2002

Nauru and Australia discuss asylum-seekers issue as deal set to expire

3:37 pm on 30 April 2002

The Nauru government is refusing all comment about extending an agreement to house boatpeople sent by Australia.

Last year's deal between Canberra and Nauru will expire in two weeks and Nauru's president has said the arrangement to process Australia's asylumseekers will not be extended.

But a spokesman of the Australian immigration minister now says talks are continuing.

Nauru was paid millions of dollars last year to take more than a thousand boatpeople, most of whom are still on Nauru to have their claims processed.

For its second off-shore detention centre for asylumseekers, Australia struck a deal with Papua New Guinea that has no time limit.

But the continued detention of the mainly Middle Eastern asylumseekers on Manus is now before the courts for an alleged breach of the PNG constitution.

Australian doctors have called for the evacuation of the boatpeople because of malaria.

The Australian government has only taken one malaria sufferer to Darwin.