15 Sep 2004

Australia says Vanuatu explusion order reversed

1:36 pm on 15 September 2004

The Australian High Commission in Vanuatu says it understands that two Australian Federal Police liaison officers expelled from the country can now stay.

This comes despite statements last night by the foreign minister, Barak Sope, that the order issued last week for the two to leave, still stands.

An official in Mr Sope's office repeated this morning that the men are expected to fly out today.

But an official at the High Commission says they have a verbal assurance from the Prime Minister's office that the officers can stay.

This came after the officers themselves were notified by two Cabinet Ministers during their farewell on Monday that the expulsion order had been reversed.

Mr Sope had ordered the officers out of the country, saying they were operating independently of the High Commission and the local police, and that their presence in Vanuatu was not covered by the bilateral defence agreement.