Subject: ABC: E Timor says Govt's asylum seeker stance 'understandable'

ABC News Online

1 Nov 2001 22:12 AEDT

E Timor says Govt's asylum seeker stance 'understandable'

The Federal Government's strong position over asylum seekers has been labelled as understandable by a senior East Timorese Minister.

Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, who is attending the World Tourism Conference in Hobart, says it is difficult for the Government to determine who the genuine refugees are.

While East Timor has not been approached by the Government to process asylum seekers, the East Timorese Government is preparing to be targeted by asylum seekers itself.

Dr Ramos-Horta says East Timor expects to call on Australia to help protect its borders in the future.

"Once East Timor becomes known as a very safe place, relatively, prosperous with oil and natural gas revenues, it could be a place of attraction and we have a totally defenceless waters," he said.

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