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Australian Ministers in Jakarta for Talks on Illegal - 2001-09-05


Australia's immigration and defense ministers have arrived in Jakarta to urge Indonesia to curb the flow of illegal asylum seekers passing through its territory.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer will join the talks with high-level officials in the Indonesian capital. Their visit follows last week's diplomatic standoff over a Norwegian ship carrying more than 400 asylum seekers. The ship rescued the migrants from a sinking Indonesian ferry August 26th. Australia refused to grant them refuge.

Thousands of illegal migrants slip into Indonesia every year, hoping to travel to Australia. Most of the migrants come from the Middle East or South Asia.

The latest crisis was defused when New Zealand and the Pacific island of Nauru agreed to take in the migrants while their applications for political asylum are processed. Australia's federal court will decide whether they will be granted refugee status in that country.

Meanwhile, the captain of the Norwegian freighter that picked up the migrants sailed his vessel into Singapore Wednesday. He is scheduled to tell his story to the international media on Thursday.

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