Immigration chief Sok Phal is in Australia to meet with officials there about the controversial refugee deal the two countries signed last month, but will not be visiting Nauru, where Australia is detaining the asylum seekers it wants to send to Cambodia, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.
As part of the deal, Cambodia agreed to resettle an unspecified number of refugees from Nauru on a voluntary basis in exchange for an additional $35 million in aid from Australia over the next four years.
On Tuesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said General Phal was leading a three-man delegation to Australia to discuss the deal further and that they would be heading straight back to Cambodia in a few days.
“We don’t send them to Nauru. They are on a mission to Australia,” he said. General Sopheak said Cambodia still planned to send a team to Nauru at some point to meet with refugees there who may want to come here, but was still waiting on Australia, which will cover the costs of the trip, to make the arrangements.