The Associated Press reports that following the recommendation made last year by Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Australia and Indonesia will co-host a conference to explore regional solutions to the problem of people smuggling to be held in Bali, February 27 –28.
35 countries have been invited to Bali to participate in the conference expected to be chaired by Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, and his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer.
The idea for the conference first surfaced last year as a result of the controversy surrounding Australia's refusal to allow port access to a ship full of central Asian refuges rescued from a sinking Indonesian ship being used to smuggle them to Australia.
Thousands of people seeking economic and political asylum try to illegally enter Australia each year, often using boats provided by smugglers who use countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia as their staging areas.
The conference dubbed The Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime will include foreign ministers from 35 nations in Central Asia, North, East and Southeast Asia, as well as the Western Pacific. Attending as observers will be representatives of the United States, Canada and the European Union together with major United Nation agencies.
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