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Refugee deal interests Thailand

Refugee deal interests Thailand

Thailand has expressed interest in striking a similar asylum-seeker deal with Australia to the one proposed with Malaysia.

Thursday 19 May 2011, 04:31AM

The move comes as Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said a boatload of 32 asylum-seekers intercepted off Western Australia would be sent to a third country, even though the deal with Malaysia has yet to be finalised.

Australia is proposing to exchange 800 asylum-seekers now in Australia for 4,000 genuine refugees currently living in Malaysia, in a bid to resolve the issue of asylum-seekers.

Last weekend, Thailand’s foreign minister Kasit Piromya said Thailand would be interested in considering an exchange arrangement similar to that being made with Malaysia.

“I think the agreement between Australia and Malaysia on this particular model based on, I think, a five to one ratio is something that the rest of us will be interested to look at,” Mr Kasit said after bilateral talks with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Bangkok last week.

Mr Kasit said many countries had been looking for a way to deal with an influx of asylum-seekers.

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“I think the Australian-Malaysian likely agreement would provide some sort of certainty and also a model for others to study,” he said.

Many of the refugees Australia proposes to take from Malaysia are from Myanmar (Burma) who travelled to Malaysia via Thailand.

“So what we discussed in particular was the ongoing support which our friends in Thailand need to sustain something in the order of 110,000 people spread across nine camps,” Mr Rudd said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard reinforced Labor’s intention to send the latest asylum-seekers to a third country.

“We will hold them (asylum seekers) until we can remove them,” she said.

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