14 Aug 2013

PNG hints other Pacific nations could take on asylum seekers

6:14 am on 14 August 2013

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has hinted that other Pacific nations should take on asylum seekers as an extension of the agreement between Australia and PNG.

Peter O'Neill, after meeting with New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully on Tuesday, said any country which is a signatory to the UN convention on refugees has a commitment to address the problems of genuine refugees.

Last week the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said he had rejected an informal request from Australia to take some of its asylum seekers.

Fiji's Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has also criticised Australia for its lack of consultation with other Melanesian countries.

But Mr O'Neill says he may approach them to help out.

"We will of course engage with the other Pacific island countries, and not only Pacific Island countries, but within the Asia Pacific region. Those countries who are signatories to the United Nations conventions for refugees we all have an obligation. This is not entirely Papua New Guinea or Australia's issue."