Asean chief rejects Abbott's refugee boat policy
SYDNEY (AFP) - Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan has labelled as "counterproductive" the controversial policy of the Australian opposition party to turn back asylum-seeker boats, a newspaper report said today.
Southeast Asia's top diplomat said he believed much of what Mr Tony Abbott said was rhetoric for a domestic audience but warned Australia's ties to the region could be hurt if he followed through with his threat.
"Rhetoric, political rhetoric, you have to take (Abbott's comments) as such," he said.
"I think Southeast Asia or Asean is really mature enough to appreciate that some of them are internal rhetoric for internal consumption, for internal political communication."