Australia has asked Malaysia to remove the right to visas on arrival for Iraqis and Syrians, as they have done for Iranians, officials said Friday.
The move would aim to curb the flow of asylum seekers, often facilitated by people smugglers, who use Malaysia as a transit point on their way from the Middle East to Australia.
Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid "undertook to take up our request to extend the constrained visa arrangements now in place for Iranians ... to Iraqis and Syrians," Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told reporters, after meeting with Zahid in Kuala Lumpur this week.
The Malaysian Home Ministry "will form a task force to look into it," a ministry official told dpa on condition of anonymity.
The ministry agreed to "intensify efforts to prevent Malaysia from becoming a transit point for refugees and people-smuggling syndicates," said another official who also wished to remain anonymous.
Measures would include using biometric technology, he said.
Malaysia in July removed the right to a visa on arrival for Iranians, after Australia lobbied for the move. Iranians were previously able to buy a 30-day visa on landing in Malaysia, like most other nationalities.
Half of the Iranians paying smugglers for a passage from Indonesia to Australia this year passed through Malaysia first, Morrison said, with most of the rest flying directly into Jakarta.
In total, Iranians made up an estimated third of the 15,000 people who have paid smugglers for a passage from Indonesia to Australia since January.