16 Jan 2004

Nauru denies withdrawing invitation to Australian doctors in refugee care debate

6:23 am on 16 January 2004

Nauru has denied it has now banned a group of independent Australian doctors from visiting the island and says an invitation for them to assess health services remains open.

The team says it has suspended its trip to Nauru, scheduled for Monday, after Nauru's director of medical services Kieren Keke withdrew his invitation for them to look at the care offered to asylum seekers held in Australian detention centres.

This follows an announcement by the foreign minister Alexander Downer that Australia will provide more assistance to Nauru in response to the findings of an official team sent to Nauru on Monday.

But Nauru's Finance Minister Kinza Clodumar hinted the new offer may be contingent on the independent team not travelling to Nauru.

The suggestion has been dismissed by the Australian immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone.