19 Nov 2009

Nauru open for discussion with Australia on re-opening asylum seeker facilities

3:11 pm on 19 November 2009

Nauru's President says his country is open to discussion with Australia over any possible re-opening of the island's asylum seeker detention facilities.

Marcus Stephen's comment comes boat people keep entering Australian waters in apparent bids to get asylum.

Nauru's facilities were shut down last year, seven years after Australia launched its policy of screening asylum seekers offshore.

But Canberra is under pressure to resettle dozens of Sri Lankan asylum seekers now aboard a customs ship in Indonesian waters after a standoff lasting more than four weeks.

Mr Stephen says he hasn't been approached by Australia.

"We're open for discussion. But at the same time we do respect Australia's position and the policy that they have in place. So I'll leave it to Australia to decide for themselves what they wish to do with the asylum seekers."

Marcus Stephen