11 Dec 2002

Australia signs new asylum seeker deal with Nauru

11:39 am on 11 December 2002

Australia's foreign minister says Nauru has agreed to accept 1,500 asylum seekers and Australia will boost aid to the Pacific nation by more than 8 million US dollars under a new agreement signed yesterday.

The new memorandum of understanding signed by Mr Downer and Nauru President Rene Harris, replaces an earlier agreement signed on December 11, last year.

Mr Downer says the new MOU would ensure cooperation continued between the two nations and reaffirmed joint efforts to combat people smuggling.

The memorandum also maintains existing guarantees that Australia will ensure no persons will be left behind in Nauru and that Australian will support a medium-term sustainable development strategy to assist the country in meeting its economic and development challenges.

There are currently 708 asylum seekers being held in the Nauru processing centres