East Timor waits on asylum plan details

Updated Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:53am AEST

East Timor says it is still waiting for details from Australia about a proposal to build a regional processing centre to host Australia-bound asylum seekers.

East Timor's foreign minister Zacarias Albano da Costa said Australia had yet to clarify its position three weeks after Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed surprise plans to ship asylum seekers to East Timor.

The proposal, seen as a bid to strengthen Ms Gillard's border security credentials ahead of the federal election on August 21, has been widely criticised by East Timorese politicians, but the country's leaders have not ruled it out.

"So far we haven't received any concrete proposal from Australia," Mr da Costa told reporters after a meeting in Dili with his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa.

"We haven't said anything to them.

"Our position remains the same, that Australia, Timor-Leste and other countries in the region have to consider this issue through an appropriate forum."

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith held talks in Indonesia on July 15 to try to muster regional support for the initiative.

But Mr Natalegawa said more discussions were needed.

"We need to have more conversation, to be better informed, to be better appreciated," he said.



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