Australian authorities escort asylum-seekers onto Christmas Island August 21, 2013, after they were rescued from a crowded boat that had foundered at sea. (REUTERS)
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Australia has turned around more than 600 asylum seekers trying to reach its shores on 20 separate boats since enacting controversial new border controls in December 2013, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Thursday.In June, reports that Australia paid people-smugglers bound for Australia thousands of dollars to turn their boat back to Indonesia caused tensions with Jakarta, plunging relations to their lowest point in more than a year.Last month, a small vessel carrying asylum seekers from Vietnam was intercepted off Australia's remote west coast, the first boat carrying would-be refugees spotted that close to shore in two years.
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