Three Refugees Met With Delegation, Minister Says

Three of the refugees Australia is holding at a detention center on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru agreed to meet with Cambodian officials who traveled there last week to assess the possibility of resettling some of the asylum seekers in Cambodia, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting at the Interior Ministry, Mr. Kheng said that just three refugees—among hundreds currently being held at the center—spoke with Cambodian officials.

“A leading delegation went [to Nauru] and met only with three refugees, but others refused to meet” with the officials, he said.

The minister’s comments contradict earlier reports of the visit by the Refugee Action Coalition, a Sydney-based advocacy group, and in Australian media, which said the asylum seekers all snubbed the Cambodian delegation.

Asked whether the three refugees expressed an interest in relocating to Cambodia, Mr. Kheng said he was not sure.

“We do not know how many people will come or not come,” he said. Cambodia signed a controversial deal with Australia in September to take in an unspecified number of refugees in exchange for an additional $35 million in aid, but has yet to receive any.

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