UK’s Sunak to meet Biden, Australian PM next week: govt


San Diego, MAR 8: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will on Monday meet US President Joe Biden and Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese to discuss the emerging AUKUS security pact, the UK leader’s spokesman said Wednesday.

The meeting comes with Australia set to seal a nuclear-powered submarine deal with Britain or the United States, seen as part of the trio’s efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Pacific region.

The three leaders will reportedly convene in San Diego, California for the one-day meeting. The US has one of its largest naval bases there.

“The prime minister will be in the US on Monday for discussions on AUKUS with President Biden and the Australian Prime Minister Albanese,” Sunak’s spokesman told reporters.

The UK government will also that day publish an update to its so-called “Integrated Review” of security, defence and foreign policy, he added.

The last update two years ago was billed as the most comprehensive since the Cold War era and crafted as London recalibrated its post-Brexit foreign policy. It outlined a pivot in strategic focus towards Asia, labelling China a “systemic competitor”.

Within months Britain, the United States and Australia had announced their “enhanced trilateral security partnership”, which has paved the way to providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

London has insisted the new defence alliance is not intended to be adversarial towards any other nation. But it has been widely seen as a Western response to concern about China’s growing influence in the region, and the pace and size of its military expansion.

Britain’s The Times newspaper reported Tuesday that Australia is expected to acquire submarines built by Britain, rather than the United States, under the AUKUS pact because it is easier to crew the smaller UK vessels.