Australia says it has held talks with East Timor to establish an off-shore processing centre for asylum-seekers.
The prime minister, Julia Gillard, says she would not oversee a return to the policy adopted nine years ago when Australia processed boatpeople in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.
The two centres were closed in 2008.
Ms Gillard warned there was no quick fix to the problem of deterring asylum seekers who in recent times have been diverted to Christmas Island.
So far this year, Australia has received 3,500 asylum seekers.
Ms Gillard has also spoken to the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and the UNHCR about the planned East Timor centre.