Britain confirms trilateral AUKUS meeting in US with Albanese and Biden


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may have been coy about the reason for his US visit, but it will take in a trilateral meeting with United States President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the AUKUS defence partnership.

Mr Albanese announced he would travel to the US for bilateral talks with Mr Biden, following his trip to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I look forward to the continuing engagement that I have with the US administration,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Perth prior to departing for India, without giving further details.

On Thursday morning a spokesperson for Mr Sunak confirmed he would visit the US to meet Mr Biden and Mr Albanese for talks on the AUKUS defence agreement.

The confirmation came after speculation in recent weeks about a joint announcement from the three AUKUS nations about the defence pact that would see Australia build nuclear-powered submarines

Australia’s ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos said last week that details of the submarine deal would be announced in mid-March, but the three governments had declined to comment on the specific time and place.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will visit the US on Monday to meet Mr Biden and Mr Albanese.(Reuters: Leon Neal/Pool)

New details expected

Mr Biden is expected to host the two leaders in San Diego, home to the United States’ Pacific Fleet, according to sources familiar with the plans.

Sources told Reuters the trilateral summit would unveil new details of the 2021 AUKUS pact conceived as part of efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.

While the US and Britain have agreed to provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, the three allies have yet to say exactly how the capability will be transferred to Australia, which does not have a nuclear propulsion industry.

AUKUS will be Australia’s biggest-ever defence project and offers the prospect of jobs in all three countries, but it remains unclear whether it will involve a US or a British-designed submarine, or a combination of both, or when the vessels will become operational.

Australian defence industry speculation has centred on Australia opting for a British design, while Australia’s ambassador to the US said there would be a “genuine trilateral solution”.

Anthony Albanese and Joe Biden stand beside each other in front of the Quad event signage.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to travel to the US next week for talks with his AUKUS counterparts.(Reuters: Yuichi Yamazaki)

Questions over sharing of US military tech

Another concern regarding the pact is the sharing of US advanced military technology with Australia.

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