The United Nations will put pressure on the territory to accept before the handover boat people whom Vietnam had rejected. The assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sergio Vieira de Mello, is expected to make the appeal in meetings next week with Governor Chris Patten, Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa and Foreign Ministry officials in Beijing. Senior UNHCR sources said about 300 boat people, which Vietnam had rejected on nationality grounds, were ethnic Chinese. Absorbing them into Hong Kong to avoid statelessness was the 'easiest solution', they said. Mr Vieira de Mello was expected to ask Hong Kong to take as many boat people as possible from another group of 1,300 which had been accepted as refugees. The international community has yet to resettle them. 'For the non-nationals there really is nowhere else for them to go other than Hong Kong,' one source said. 'It is far and away the best idea for a smooth end to the repatriations.' Veteran UNHCR trouble-shooter Mr Vieira de Mello received assurances from Vietnamese Foreign and Interior Ministry officials certain cases would be reviewed, if fresh proof could be found linking to them to Vietnam. But it was a long shot at best, officials said. Vietnam has yet to accept another 700 of the 2,600 boat people still in Hong Kong. Interior Ministry officials are in the territory to scrutinise their papers. The threat of statelessness for the group looms as the biggest obstacle to a smooth end for the repatriation programme. Vietnam has steadfastly refused to begin negotiations, saying they are not Vietnamese nationals and the issue is nothing to do with Hanoi. A Security Branch spokesman said the UNHCR had not made any approach to the Government about Vietnamese people left in the territory after the handover.