Baku, Azerbaijan, June 20
By Fatih Karimov – Trend:
No agreement has been made between Iran and Australia over the deportation of Iranian asylum-seekers from Australia, an Iranian source said on the condition of anonymity.
A report by The West Australian newspaper claimed that Iranians held in Australia could be returned under a deal being negotiated between the two countries.
But, the Iranian source rejected the report, saying there was no deal made, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported on June 20.
“Iranian citizens are free to choose their place of residence and job. If any of our citizens intends to return to Iran, it should be done voluntarily,” the source added.
The West Australian reported on June 19 that a high-level Iranian delegation visited Australia this week to draw up a memorandum of understanding that would allow the return of Iranians held in immigration detention camps.
It could also involve Australia offering university scholarships, easing travel warnings and visa restrictions, as well as combating terrorism, and smuggling of drugs and humans.
Back in April, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister in Consular and Overseas Nationals Affairs Hassan Qashqavi criticized foreign countries for deporting Iranian asylum seekers.
“We are against forcefully deporting Iranian asylum seekers and this is our firm and constant position and we have frequently told the foreign sides - their foreign ministers and consular officials - and this is a firm stance that we are saying yes to the willful return home, but no to forceful deportation,” he said.
Almost 300 Iranian asylum seekers are on Manus Island and 166 on Nauru. Another 440 Iranians are in detention centers on the Australian mainland and 8000 have bridging visas.
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