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Saturday 4 June 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister said progress was being made in closing down the asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island, but he refuses to say if there was a time-line.

The country’s Supreme Court in April ruled the centre, which holds asylum seekers and refugees detained by Australia, was unconstitutional, and the government then announced it would shut down.

Both PNG and Australia have publicly argued over whose responsibility the 1500 detainees are, and what will happen to them once the centre eventually does close.

The Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, said his officials were meeting regularly with their Australian counterparts, but he refused to be drawn to detail their progress.

“Look, there are clear plans in place. It’s a matter that is the subject of ongoing discussions and planning from the Australian government. So all I can say to you is that everything is well and truly on track.”

Pato said despite some Australian politicians suggesting the Manus centre could remain open, the centre will be closed.

The future of the asylum seekers and refugees held on Manus Island is shrouded in uncertainty as Canberra scrambles to find a solution. - RNZI