6 Feb 2017

Amnesty says US deal 'dead in the water'

10:24 am on 6 February 2017

Amnesty International believes Australia's refugee deal with the United States is dead in the water, despite indications from the White House that it will honour the agreement.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Protest by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. Photo: supplied

The agreement to take refugees from Nauru and Manus Island was brokered between Australia and the US in the closing weeks of the Obama administration.

Before the White House confirmed last week that it will still go ahead, US President Donald Trump said on Twitter the agreement with Australia was a dumb deal.

Amnesty's Pacific Researcher, Kate Schuetze, said Australia needed to resolve the situation as it was the one that failed to meet its obligations to asylum seekers in the first place.

"The rhetoric coming out of the US and from Trump is that even though he'll comply with the letter of the deal, the practicality may mean that they settle zero people." she said.

"The refugees cannot languish in limbo and the situation must be resolved before lives are lost," she said.

Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister said his country would not be forced to agree to American requests for military support in exchange for the resettlement of refugees.

Malcolm Turnbull said Australia won't feel indebted to the US, should it ask for extra troops in the Middle East, or warships in the South China Sea.

"We assess all requests for military assistance on their merits and there is no linkage at all between an arrangement relating to refugee resettlement and any other matters."

Donald Trump on the telephone in the Oval Office of the White House.

Donald Trump on the telephone in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: AFP

- RNZ/ABC

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