Australia eyes Cambodia as asylum-seeker host

Phnom Penh

Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison made an unannounced visit to Cambodia on Friday, raising speculation that Phnom Penh will join Papua New Guinea and Nauru in helping resettle asylum-seekers.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said talks between Morrison and Cambodian officials represented the countries “staying in touch” as partners against people-smuggling.

“Whether Cambodia were to accept people is really a matter for Cambodia, but the point is people-smuggling is a regional problem,” he told reporters.

“It needs to be dealt with in a regional way and any support and cooperation that other countries can give to Australia is obviously very welcome.”

Australia has adopted a hardline policy against asylum-seekers arriving on unauthorised boats as it seeks to control its maritime borders and stop would-be refugees from drowning at sea.

Under the policy, boatpeople have been sent to camps on remote Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island in the Pacific for processing and denied resettlement in Australia.

“We’re very pleased to have been getting the support from PNG and from Nauru that we’ve had and we look forward to further support from other countries in our region, including from Cambodia,” Abbott said…