16 Sep 2004

Vanuatu Foreign Minister says police not welcome back until conditions met

8:17 pm on 16 September 2004

The Vanuatu Foreign Minister Barak Sope says two Australian Federal police will not be allowed back into the country until their presence is written into the bilateral defence agreement.

The two officers returned to Canberra yesterday, for consultations, according to the Australian High Commission.

Last week Mr Sope gave the duo ten days to leave the country but this was overturned by Prime Minister Serge Vohor.

However now Mr Sope says the officers were not expelled, but he says they won't be allowed back until they are covered by a formal agreement and housed within the High Commission, not in an independent office in Port Vila.

"they opened this office and there were AFP policemen coming into the office anytime they wanted, on tourist visas. Sometimes youi had 11 or 12 of them in the office, working there - they are not allowed to be working"

The Australian High Commission has already indicated that it is working to satisfy Vanuatu's demands.

They also say they have been assured the two can return.