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Last updated: 10 November, 2009 - Published 14:14 GMT
 
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Eight migrants 'ready' to disembark
 
Sri Lankan migrants on board a vessel off Indonesia (file photo)
Officials say they cannot confirm whether some of the migrants are Tamil Tigers
While Sri Lanka and Australia have agreed to set up a joint mechanism to tackle the problem of people smuggling, Indonesian officials say that eight Sri Lankan migrants on board a vessel have agreed to disembark in Indonesia.

Director of Diplomatic Security Services of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Sujathmiko, told BBC Sinhala service that all other migrants, on board two vessels, are still insisting on travelling to Australia.

While 255 Sri Lankan migrants, mainly Tamils, are on board a vessel in Merak port off Java islands, 78 more Sri Lankans are stranded off the coast of Pinang.

"My information is that eight of them have agreed to be accommodated in immigration detention centre in Indonesia," said Director Sujathmiko.

'Tamil Tigers'

Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Indonesia, Maj Gen (retd) Nanda Mallawarachchi, has told Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper that a number of LTTE cadres are believed to be among the migrants in the second boat.

 I can not confirm whether they belong to Tamil Tigers because they refused to be interviewed
 
Indonesian official

"I have identified some LTTE Cadres, but cannot confirm their ranks at this time. I suspect a number of high profile LTTE cadres to be among these asylum seekers," he was quoted by the newspaper.

However the Indonesian official says he cannot confirm the allegation.

"I can not confirm whether they belong to Tamil Tigers because they refused to be interviewed," Mr. Sujathmiko told BBC Sandeshaya.

On Monday, an agreement was signed after talks in Colombo between the visiting Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith and his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama.

Australia says the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka has led to a surge in Tamil asylum-seekers arriving on its shores.

The growing number of asylum seekers is becoming a political issue in Australia, with the government facing criticism for softening the immigration laws since it took office in 2007.

 
 
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