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Nauru becomes second Pacific nation to agree to settle refugees who head to Australia by boat

Nauru has become the second Pacific island nation to agree to settle refugees who attempt to reach Australian shores by boat.

Australia announced that Nauru signed an agreement Saturday, two weeks after Papua New Guinea made a similar deal with the Australian government in return for foreign aid.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hopes to deter an escalating number of asylum seekers who travel to Australia in rickety fishing boats from poor, often war-torn homelands through other countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Rudd is soon expected to call elections for as early as Sept. 7. The surge in asylum seeker boat arrivals in recent years is a major political issue that is hurting the governing center-left Labor Party in opinion polls.