Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says a potential deal to send asylum seekers back to Iran is at an early stage, despite her counterpart visiting this week.
Source:
AAP
14 Mar 2016 - 9:32 AM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2016 - 11:50 AM

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has played down the likelihood of an imminent deal which could send back thousands of asylum seekers to Iran.

Ms Bishop will meet with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif during his visit to Australia this week, but warns talks about a repatriation deal are at a "very early stage".

A deal with Iran could secure the return of 9000 failed asylum seekers but Ms Bishop says talks have only made it to official level and had not been discussed between ministers.

"It certainly is a goal," she told reporters of a deal.

Ms Bishop intends to confront Mr Zarif over Iran's recent missile launches, which she believes are of "great concern".

"The onus is on Iran to prove that it is on its way back to being a responsible international player," she said on Monday in Fiji, where she is visiting cyclone-hit areas.

United Nations Security Council members were investigating the launch of missiles with a range of 2000km, just months after Australia lifted economic sanctions.

"Any missile tests will raise concerns. It's not conducive to reducing tensions in an already tense and volatile region," Ms Bishop told ABC radio on Monday.

Ms Bishop said she would also raise concerns about Iran's human rights record with Mr Zarif, but played down suggestions she feared for the safety of asylum seekers returning from Australia.

"The Iranians who have gone back are testament to the fact that they're not being persecuted on their return," she said.