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Australian immigration minister visits Jaffna, no talks with Tamil groups

Published on Jul 10, 2014 12:56 PM
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse (2nd right) and Australia's immigration minister Scott Morrison (2nd left) pose for photographers in Colombo on July 9, 2014 during a ceremony commissioning two Australian-gifted naval patrol boats that will be deployed for preventing people smuggling operations. -- PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (REUTERS) - Australia's immigration minister, defending Canberra's policy of turning back boats of asylum seekers, visited a focal point of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists, but came under fire for meeting no Tamil political or civil groups.

Scott Morrison was visiting Sri Lanka to hand over two patrol boats to strengthen the island nation's surveillance against people smuggling.

His visit coincided with accusations by Sri Lankans intercepted and sent home that Australian customs officials had mistreated them.

A second boat carrying 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers remained in legal limbo as the Australian High Court considered whether their interception was legal.

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