WORLD : Britain Defends Refugee Return

From Times Wire Services

Britain today defended its controversial decision to send Vietnamese boat people home against their will from camps in the crown colony of Hong Kong, saying there was nowhere else they could go.

"There has been unanimous agreement in the international community that there is no place for these people to go other than back to Vietnam," Foreign Office Minister Francis Maude said.

The Foreign Office in London would not confirm reports by diplomats in Hong Kong that Britain had agreed to pay Vietnam $620 for each of the boat people repatriated.

Maude said Britain was planning the sort of repatriation that was practiced worldwide.

"We are talking about a process of deportation which is used every day across the globe by all sorts of countries, including, preeminently, the United States," he said.

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