10 Apr 2006

Indonesia awaiting Howard clarification on asylum process

1:55 pm on 10 April 2006

The Indonesian government is still waiting for an official explanation of the Australian prime minister John Howard's statement that Australia will review how it grants visas to Indonesian asylum seekers.

Mr Howard made the statement amid a crisis in relations between Jakarta and Canberra over last month's Australian decision to grant 42 Papuans temporary visas.

Mr Howard hinted that national interest may be a factor in future decisions which some say could lead to a process that contravenes international obligations on refugees being subscribed by Australia.

But the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has cast doubt on the government's ability to influence whether asylum seekers are given refuge.

The Indonesian foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, says he needs further elaboration from the Australian government to fully understand what Mr Howard has said.