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Joint statement: [Australian Embassy in Beirut]



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13.

4l'ILj['.1

MEDIA RELEASE

SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Friday, January 29 09/93

OIWr STATE BY THE SIWX)W I(INI

AND E'EN AFFAIRS. MR ILIP R

The Australian Government's decision to open an "Australian Government office" in Beirut is simply not good enough.

The Federal Opposition has for some time been calling on the Government to reopen the Australian Embassy in Beirut.

Tiast night's announcft^nwnt by 5vsiatur EvaZ'n a,cd ?LL xand hays

long been foreshadowed by the Government and is of no surprise.

The Government's move was inadequate when it was first mooted last year, and it is still inadequate. The "Australian Government Office" will be little more than a "letter box" and

will not satisfy Australia's proper representational needs in Lebanon. The establishment of the office in Beirut means that many residents and citizens will still need to travel to Damascus for interviews and to have access to many important

usarvi rae .

The Government - still appears to be using the excuse of security for not reopening the Beirut Embassy.

Yet, Mr Hand last year acknowledged that the security situation in Lebanon had improved, and the Government has continued to assert that Lebanon is safe enough to forcibly return those seeking temporary sanctuary in Australia.

The Government ha$ still not undertaken a full security assessment in Lebanon, so it does not have firm information on which to baac+ s docicion on tho rooponing of the 8mbav g y. it

appears to be relying on second-hand information. About 40 countries kept their embassies open during the civil war period.

on assuming government, the Coalition will seek a full assessment of security and costs with a view to reopening the Embassy as soon as possible.

(ends)

Bnquiriess Senator Hill on (08) 237 7920 Philip Rvddovk on (02) C30 4575

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