India and Japan have reportedly greenlit Australia’s new trilateral security partnership with the US and UK.
Amid concerns the AUKUS arrangement would ostracise Australia’s regional neighbours, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide have welcomed the deal.
The prime minister held talks with both leaders, who reportedly acknowledged AUKUS’ potential contribution to regional peace and stability.
“[AUKUS] adds greatly, I think, to the Quad partnership [and] that's what it's intended to do,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“I mean, Australia is engaged in partnerships with many countries, and we see the Quad and the trilateral partnership of AUKUS as being completely complementary, and that's the discussion that Narendra Modi and I have just had.
“He certainly sees it in that way, as does Yoshi Suga, when I spoke to him last week…”
Prime Minister Morrison added AUKUS would benefit other players in the region, including Indonesia, which has bemoaned the deal.
“Everybody gains from a stable Indo-Pacific, everybody gains, including whether it's in China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, we all benefit from a stable Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Meanwhile, France, which condemned the agreement and the subsequent axing of Naval Group’s Attack Class contract, continues to rebuff Canberra’s attempts to extend an olive branch.
French President Emmanuel Macron recalled ambassadors to Australia and the US in response to the announcement, with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian describing the AUKUS deal as a “stab in the back”.
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However, Prime Minister Morrison said he is hopeful of a reconciliation, noting the continued strength of defence collaboration between the nations.
“We value our relationship with France,” he said.
“We have, still, $6 billion worth of defence contracts with French companies. We have $32 billion worth of defence contracts with European countries.
“We see Europe and France, working with like-minded partners like Australia to ensure a more stable Indo-Pacific.
“Our door is wide open, our invitation is there. We understand the hurt and disappointment.”
The PM added: “We'll be patient, and we look forward to working with old friends again.”
The new AUKUS agreement includes a plan to build nuclear-powered submarines in Adelaide, leveraging skills and resources provided by stakeholders in the US and UK.
Details regarding the future submarine fleet’s capability, costs, project logistics, and the delivery timeline are to be fleshed out over the next 18 months.
The AUKUS pact is also expected to bolster the United Kingdom and the United States’ military presence in the region.
[Related: AUKUS incites French fracas, PM doubles down]
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.