Asia

Vanuatu ejects Australian police amid diplomatic row

Police officers in Perth on 22 April, 2012 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Australian foreign minister urged Vanuatu to reconsider the move

Vanuatu has thrown out an Australian police contingent following a diplomatic row.

The officers, who were stationed in the capital Port Vila, have left and the liaison office there has been closed.

The Pacific nation's foreign minister said the move was linked to the ''disrespectful treatment'' of Prime Minister Sato Kilman in Sydney.

But it comes amid a diplomatic row over the arrest of the prime minister's private secretary.

The group were in transit in Sydney late last month as Mr Kilman travelled to Israel on a state visit.

He and his delegation were reportedly asked to complete immigration procedures at the airport. His private secretary, Clarence Marae, was then arrested.

He is currently being detained in Australia on charges of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth.

On Wednesday, the Vanuatu government gave the Australian police contingent 24 hours to leave and shut the station, which was set up in 2006 as a joint initiative.

Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot said the "concerns of the government are purely to do with the disrespect of the prime minister of Vanuatu".

An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official said Canberra was ''disappointed'' with the Vanuatu government's decision.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has asked the Pacific nation to reconsider the move, saying that throwing the AFP out would be causing "self-inflicted damage".

"We are spending A$97m (£61m, $98m) training police officers across the Pacific, it is very, very valuable aid," he said.

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