VANUATU'S PM NATAPEI REJECTS ASYLUM SEEKERS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (October 31, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei says his country will definitely reject any approach from Australia for it to accept asylum seekers for processing.

The Prime Minister told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that land was a precious commodity in the Pacific islands and, unlike in Australia, there was very little of it available to be set aside for refugees.

Mr. Natapei also said there was a major concern about how long the island countries would have to accommodate the asylum seekers.

"Maybe for a short period of time it would be acceptable. But after some time the fear is that these people will probably prefer to remain in the Pacific and would continue to be a burden to the governments of the region," he said.

"I mean, how are we going to handle them? How are we going to continue to look after them in the long term? That's the difficulty."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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