25 Jan 2010

Australia urged to help break impasse

6:33 am on 25 January 2010

Indonesia has called on Australia to help resolve a long-running asylum seeker stand-off at a port in Java.

More than 240 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have spent more than three months on a cargo boat at the port of Merak, in Java's west.

Intercepted by Indonesia at Australia's request in October, the Tamils do not want to come ashore because they fear they will be forced to wait years for resettlement.

They want a rapid resettlement deal like the one Australia used to coax 78 Tamils off the Oceanic Viking late last year.

The federal government in Australia has sought to distance itself from the stand-off, insisting it is up to Indonesia to resolve it.

But Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says Australia must be part of the solution to the impasse.