Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese travels to Washington, DC to meet with US President Joe Biden, where an announcement of Australia’s plans to build nuclear-powered submarines is expected.
Albanese, who was due to arrive in India on Wednesday, gave few details about his upcoming trip to the United States and said announcements about arrangements for the visit would be made later.
“I am meeting with President Biden in the United States. We will have further announcements shortly on details of the arrangements that will take place,” Albanese told reporters at Perth Airport before boarding his plane to India.
“I look forward to the continued involvement I have with the US government,” he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday that Albanians were expected to sign a long-awaited pact to build a fleet of nuclear submarines during his visit to the US next week.
Albanians are expected to attend a signing ceremony in San Diego on Monday with Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the newspaper reported, citing sources.
The submarine deal is taking place under the auspices of AUKUS, a fledgling alliance with Australia, the UK and the US that aims to share advanced military and other technology. But there are still big questions hanging over the project, such as whether Australia will buy submarine technology from the US or the UK, where their submarines will be built and when they will be in the water and operational.
Sources referenced by the Sydney Morning Herald said some lawmakers in the US believe some of Australia’s submarines could be built in the US “to accelerate their deployment in the Pacific”.
Albanians declined to say on Wednesday whether he expected Sunak to travel to the US as well.
The deal, which would involve eight nuclear-powered submarines, stems from concerns in Australia and the US about China’s increasingly assertive presence in the Pacific. Albanese said last month that the AUKUS alliance was “the biggest leap” in defense capability in Australia’s history.
“The AUKUS partnership aims to provide Australia with a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability as soon as possible,” a Pentagon spokesman told AFP news agency ahead of Albania’s announcement.
China condemned the AUKUS alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability and in 2021 accused Canberra, Washington and London of “seriously harming regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race and undermining international nuclear non-proliferation efforts”. harm”.
Stephen Dziedzic, an Asia-Pacific reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said there were reports that Australia was holding briefing calls with senior officials and regional leaders, including Singapore and Indonesia, as an AUKUS announcement was expected amid the announcement of Albanian “bilateral meetings” in the US.
Albanese says he will go to the US after India for “bilateral meetings” with Biden. Also widespread anticipation of an AUKUS announcement. I am told that the Australian government is already in talks with several regional leaders/senior officials (e.g. in Indonesia, Singapore) for briefings
— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) March 8, 2023
John Blaxland, a professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defense Studies Center, said Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong and Defense Secretary Richard Marles “have actively sought to address nuclear non-proliferation concerns” at neighbors in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.
“The Albanian government has emphasized that a strengthened defense capability is a net asset for security partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific,” Blaxland wrote in The Conversation on Monday.
The long-awaited announcement of the AUKUS submarine is just around the corner. What can we expect? @ANUasiapific@ANU_SDSC @ANUBellSchool @ANUmedia @ConversationEDU
— John Blaxland (@JohnBlaxland1) March 6, 2023
Albanese will arrive in India on Wednesday and is scheduled to visit Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Australia and India are important partners,” Albanese said. “We share common values. We are both vibrant democracies. We have an interest in improving our economic relations.”
He said India, along with Indonesia, would become the world’s third and fourth largest economies, presenting “an incredible opportunity” for Australia.