Australia's Morrison Arrives In New Zealand To Discuss COVID-19, China, Refugees - Reports

Australia's Morrison Arrives in New Zealand to Discuss COVID-19, China, Refugees - Reports

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 30th May, 2021) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived in New Zealand on Sunday for his first overseas visit of 2021 to meet with his counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, media reported.

The main talking points are expected to be medical aid to Pacific island nations, relations with China and the Trans-Tasman relationship. Media speculated that another pressing issue on the agenda will be a possible refugee resettlement deal.

Since 2012, the Australian government has been sending asylum seekers to neighboring island nations, mainly Nauru and Papua New Guinea, under its offshore refugee processing system. In 2016, Canberra struck a deal with Washington under the Obama administration that allowed it to transfer up to 1,250 people to the US.

As the deal is nearing its end, with 936 of Australia's refugees already resettled in the US and 258 more provisionally accepted, Canberra needs to decide what to do with the remaining 239 people currently stuck on the offshore processing islands.

As part of the solution, New Zealand has been offering to resettle up to 150 offshore refugees a year since 2013. Australia has consistently denied the offer out of fear that after five years since their resettlement in New Zealand, former asylum seekers could claim citizenship and become eligible to travel to Australia without restriction.