WRITTEN GUARANTEE ON ASYLUM SEEKERS MAY WIN PNG APPROVAL

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 4, 2001 - Radio Australia)--- Papua New Guinea is seeking a guarantee from Australia that all Middle East asylum seekers diverted to PNG will eventually be removed.

The AAP news agency says Port Moresby wants the guarantee before considering a request from Canberra to accept another 1,000 asylum seekers for processing.

Currently, remote Manus Island is accommodating 216 mainly Iraqi boat people, who are being processed by Australian immigration officials for possible third-country acceptance as refugees.

Local media quote Manus Island Governor Stephen Pokawin as responding positively to taking more asylum seekers, but on one condition -- that none would remain in Manus or Papua New Guinea.

The chairman of a ministerial committee, which will have the final say, is quoted as saying that a written guarantee will be required from Australia before any more asylum seekers are taken. The guarantee must make clear that not one person from the first group will be left behind.

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

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