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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) they've been transferred to a

detention centre on Horn Island

for health and can security

checks. Australia is committing

$4.5 million to help civilians

caught in the conflict in Sri

Lanka. To discuss the

humanitarian aid and other

issues, Foreign Minister

Stephen Smith joins us. Can you

confirm the decision has been

made to send an extra 200

troops to Afghanistan? I'm not

confirming that, Joe. A couple

of weeks ago I said I thought

the Government would be in a

position to make a decision and an announcement about these

think a decision from the matters in a couple of weeks. I

Government can be announced in

the very near future and we

continue, as I've said in the

past, to look at what we can do

in terms of a potential additional contribution to

Afghanistan, not just in terms

of any additional military

contribution but what we can do

in terms of training, particularly for the Afghan

national army and police, what

we can do in terms of civilian

capacity-building, building the

State institutions, and what we

can do to add to the

international effort so far as

staring down international

terrorism in Afghanistan is

concerned. Has the US

requested those troops? We

have been in discussion

obviously with the United

States. My colleague, the Defence Minister Joel

Fitzgibbon and I were in

Washington just before Easter

for the annual so-called Aus

Mintalks, the Australia-US

Ministerial talks. We had a

general discussion about what

contribution, if any - what additional contribution, if

any, Australia could make and

as I said then, I expected we'd

be able to make a decision and

announcement in a matter of

weeks and I think an

announcement from the

Government can be expected in

the very near future. Maybe

even today. We'll turn to swine

flu now. I understand you've

had a Government briefing on

the situation. What's the

latest developments? Are there

any positive cases in

Australia? I'm not aware yet

of any positive cases. My

colleague the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, has been making

the point that we've got about

80 Australians who have been

travelling in the vicinity of

where the swine flu has been

detected and they are being

subject to the range of tests.

We've also got some Australian

whose we know were travelling

with the 22 - the party of 22

New Zealanders, some of whom

have been confirmed with -

confirmed suffering with swine

flu and they're being

effectively tracked down and

proposed to be tested as well

but my most recent advice is no confirmed cases but we are taking the necessary precautions consistent with the

advice of the chief medical officer and also consistent

with the advice of the World

Health Organization. The

screening process yesterday

seemed quite haphazard. How is

that being improved? We think

we've been taking, as I say, on

the advice of the World Health

Organization and chief medical

officer, all of the necessary

precautions. We've seen, for

example, fatalities coming out

of Mexico but in other areas,

the adverse consequences seem

to have been much milder than

that and that of course is one

of the reasons why we've

increased our traveled avisory

to Mexico to consider your need

to travel to Mexico and

overnight we've made it clear

that so far as our officials in

Mexico are concerned we won't

be dealing with over-the-counter applications

for visas and that's consistent

with the sort of sensible

precautions we've been taking.

So we're confident that to date

on the advice of our medical

professionals we've been taking

all of the necessary

precautions and we continue to

monitor the situation and as

the Health Minister has made

clear f we believe that

additional measures are

required, they'll be taken. We

are monitoring this very, very

carefully to take, as I say,

all of the necessary and

appropriate precautions. And so you're optimistic that this

won't be devastating globally

because the mortality rate

outside Mexico is nonexistent?

I think it's early days. I

think we still need to get the

scientific analysis as to what

has been the cause of the

deaths in Mexico but we have

seen that confirmed cases in

other countries - United

States, Canada and New Zealand

- the adverse consequencevise

obviously been much less than

the terrible consequences we've

seen in Mexico. We haven't yet

seen the scientific analysis or

reasons as to that but because

there's been such a terrible

situation in Mexico, obviously

Australia and other countries

are taking all of the necessary

precautions and countries in

our own region, in the Asia

Pacific, who were on the

receiving end of the SARS

epidemic some time ago, they've

now got good procedures in place enlivened by that experience, so we're confident

that we're certainly taking all

the necessary precautions.

We've seen other countries do

like-wise. This is a situation

where we want to err on the

side of caution, we want to be

safe rather than sorry but to

date the only terrible consequences we've seen have

been in Mexico and we certainly

hope that be don't see any

further fatalities. You do have

the powers now to quarantine

people if case dooz arise in

Australia? Well, as the chief

medical officer and the Health

Minister have made clear, those

powererise there. We currently

don't see the need to utilise

them and the Minister for

health has made the point that those powers won't be required

on the basis of ongoing

cooperation from all concerned

and to date we've certainly

received that. So those powers

are there to be used sensibly

and appropriately if required.

To date they haven't been required and again we certainly

hope that continues to be the

case. Turning to the situation

in Sri Lanka, you're announcing

this financial humanitarian

assistance. Which body is that

money going to? We're

announcing a further $4.5

million worth of financial

assistance. The bulk of it is

going to organisations

associated with assistance

United Nations High displaced persons, so the

Commissioner for refugees, the

international organisation for

migration, they get the bulk of

it, $3 million, 1.5 million

each, the Red Cross gets a

million dollars and another

Australian-based NGO gets a

half a million dollars. It's

all aimed at trying to relieve

the terrible humanitarian

situation we find in Sri Lanka.

We've seen in recent days and

weeks a very large number of

displaced people and this is

aimed at trying to alleviate

their burden. More generally,

we continue to urge the Sri

Lankan Government and Tamil

Tigers to cease hostilities and

we continue to urge the Sri

Lankan Government to try and

effect a political solution.

This is not a problem which can

be dealt with only by military

means. Is it a problem that

can only be solved by the

establishment of an independent

Tamil State? That's not the

Australian Government's

position and it's not the view

of the international community.

Today, for example, we'll see

French Foreign Minister Kushner

and British foreign secretary

Miliband arrive in Colombo and

they'll make the points the

international community has

been making about this

difficult situation. I spoke at

length to David Miliband over

the Anzac Day weekend and he'll

be making the points which the international community have

been making which is we need to

see a cessation of hosilities.

We want to see the Tamil Tigers

lay down their arms. We want to

make sure civilians are

provided for on a humanitarian

basis. We need to see

international monitors in the

displaced peoples' camps to

make sure that humanitarian

standards are abided by but we

also need to see the Sri Lankan

Government sit down and craft

out a political program,

political dialogue, political reforms required to bring a

long-term enduring solution to

this very difficult and long-standing problem. The Tigers have offered a ceasefire, the Sri Lankan

Government has rejected that, should the Sri Lankan

Government accept that

ceasefire? We want both the

Sri Lankan Government and the

Tamil Tigers to cease

hostilities, particularly to

allow civilians who are still

caught up in hostile areas to

remove themselves from those

areas. We've been calling on

the Tamil Tigers for some time

to lay down their arms. It's

been quite clear for a matter

of weeks, if not months, that

the Sri Lankan Government is

winning the military battle, is

winning the war, but it needs

more than a military solution

to give the Sri Lankan people

the chance of a long-term

enduring peace. Stephen Smith

in Canberra, thanks very much