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Malaysia to take 800 Australia asylum seekers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia >> Malaysia will accept 800 asylum seekers who entered Australia illegally by sea in a groundbreaking deal between the two countries to tackle people smuggling.

A joint government statement late Saturday said that in return, Australia will resettle 4,000 registered refugees living in Malaysia.

Australia has long attracted people from poor, often war-ravaged countries hoping to start a new life, with more than 6,200 asylum seekers arriving by boat last year. Most are people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq who use Malaysia or Indonesia as a starting point for a sea journey to Australia.

The statement said the one-off pilot project, to be finalized soon, is crucial to undermine people smuggling and human trafficking in the region.

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