Iran says can’t force asylum seekers in Australia home

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Some 9000 failed Iranian asylum seekers currently in Australia, many held in country’s contentious offshore holding centers

By Jill Fraser

MELBOURNE — Australia and Iran have discussed human rights, extremism and boosting trade ties during a visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister to Canberra on Tuesday — but of particular concern was the mandatory return of some 9000 failed Iranian asylum seekers.

Australia wants to forcibly return those found not to require protection under its complementary protection regime or the Refugees Convention, many of whom are currently residing in the country’s contentious offshore holding centers.

Javad Zarif told reporters after discussions with Australian counterpart Julie Bishop that the country had no objection to Iranian citizens returning “voluntarily”.

“We cannot force anybody to come back to Iran but if anybody wants to come back voluntarily, we always take our citizens with pride,” the Australian Associated Press reported him saying Tuesday, adding that it was within Australia’s “legal rights” to consider deportations.

The visit was the first visit by a senior Iranian minister in 13 years.

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