Britain’s Rishi Sunak will meet Australian PM Joe Biden next week
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet with US President Joe Biden and Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese on Monday to discuss the looming AUKUS security deal, a UK leader’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
The meeting comes alongside Australia’s push to seal a nuclear-powered submarine deal with either Britain or the United States, seen as part of the trio’s efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Pacific.
The three leaders will reportedly convene for a one-day meeting in San Diego, California. There is one of the largest naval bases in America.
“The prime minister will be in the US on Monday to discuss the AUCS with President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Albanese,” Sunak’s spokesman told reporters.
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He said the UK government would also publish an update on that day to its so-called “integrated review” of security, defense and foreign policy.
The last update two years ago was billed as the most comprehensive since the Cold War era and marked London’s reimagining of its post-Brexit foreign policy. It outlined the pivot of strategic focus towards Asia, terming China a “systemic competitor”.
Within months Britain, the United States and Australia announced their “Enhanced Trilateral Security Partnership”, which paved the way for Australia to be provided with nuclear-powered submarines.
London has insisted that the new defense alliance is not intended to be hostile to any other nation. But it has been widely seen as a Western response to concerns about China’s growing influence in the region and the pace and size of its military expansion.
Britain’s The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that under the AUKUS pact, Australia is expected to acquire UK-built submarines instead of the United States because smaller UK vessels are easier to crew.