CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sri Lanka's prime minister says that Sri Lankan asylum seekers held on Pacific island camps who could potentially settle in the United States are free to return home without fear of persecution.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made the comments on Wednesday during a visit to Australia in which he discussed bilateral cooperation on combating people smuggling. No Sri Lankan asylum seeker has reached Australia by boat since 2013.
But Sri Lankans, Iranians and Afghans are the largest national groups among more than 2,000 asylum seekers who are kept at Australia's expense on the Pacific islands nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Australia refuses to resettle any of them and President Donald Trump has agreed to honor an Obama administration deal to resettle up to 1,250 of them.