No Deal to Return Asylum Seekers From Australia

No Deal to Return Asylum Seekers From AustraliaNo Deal to Return Asylum Seekers From Australia

Iranian Ambassador to Australia Abdolhossein Vahaji said no repatriation deal will be signed between Tehran and Canberra to return thousands of Iranian Asylum seekers to their homeland.

His comments follow a report in The West Australian newspaper this week that said talks on  such a pact were well-advanced and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was hopeful of it during the upcoming visit of her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, which is scheduled for next week.

The report said the deal would lift Tehran’s longstanding refusal to accept up to 9,000 Iranian asylum seekers who cannot stay in Australia but do not want to come home.

"We stick to our previous views," ISNA quoted Vahaji as saying. "Asylum seekers should take the decision to come back to Iran on their own desire, not under pressure."

The ambassador said that although the issue of asylum seekers will be discussed during the upcoming trip of Zarif to Australia, no agreement will be signed.

"Until asylum seekers have no real desire to come back, the Iranian government will take no measures," he said.

An Australian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday after The West Australian report that dealing with the "legacy caseload" of people who arrived by boat was a priority for the government. But she played down the prospect of any quick deal, saying only that "officials-levels talks are ongoing". About 400 Iranians are living in miserable conditions in Australian-funded immigration centers on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.