The United States has agreed to resettle an unspecified number of refugees suffering in Pacific island camps in a deal that is expected to inspire more asylum seekers to attempt to reach Australia by boat, officials said on Sunday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would not say whether he had discussed the deal with President-elect Donald Trump during their telephone conversation on Thursday. The Obama administration had agreed to resettle refugees among almost 1,300 asylum seekers held at Australia’s expense on the island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Another 370 who came to Australia for medical treatment then refused to return to the islands would also be eligible.
“We deal with one administration at a time and there is only one president of the United States at a time,” Turnbull told reporters.
Trump has called for a moratorium or tight restrictions on Muslim immigration. Most of the asylum seekers are Muslims from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
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