MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, O'Neill told Australia's National Press Club (NPC) that there was a need to close the center "at some stage" in the future.
"No, I did not say I want the Manus centre closed, I said that it is up to the Australian Government, that it is their call, that is their responsibility. But I stated that we cannot hold the refugees there forever," he told the ABC's Pacific Beat program.
Speaking to journalists in Canberra, the prime minister warned that Papua New Guinea did not have the resources to resettle 916 refugees and asylum seekers currently being held in the Australian-run detention center.
"Who is going to pay for it? Certainly the PNG government does not have the resources to resettle the refugees. We are also reassessing the numbers who are supposed to be resettled," he noted.
Asylum seekers, primarily from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, are routinely sent to offshore detention camps, such as the one on Manus Island, while their application is being processed by Austrialia.