Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defense Minister Richard Marles conclude a two-day trip to Britain today. The visit is
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defense Minister Richard Marles conclude a two-day trip to Britain today.
The visit is part of a wider regional diplomatic engagement that includes a stop in France. At the annual ‘Aukmin’ summit, the Australian officials met with British government leaders, including PM Rishi Sunak. Discussions focused on promoting bilateral defense and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and for Ukraine.
The trip comes as Canberra prepares to decide on which AUKUS partner – the UK or the US – will supply Australia with nuclear submarines in March following new developments. Last weekend the US Navy announced the suspension of operations at four West Coast dry docks, which could complicate commissioning nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. Last month, the House of Lords warned against overextending the UK’s regional engagement amid a deteriorating European security environment.
The British Conservative government, though, wants to increase deployments of its warships to the Indo-Pacific. More UK presence could allow greater cooperation with Australia in this year’s Tallisman Sabre exercise. But with polling widely predicting a Labour return to power by 2025, which wants a new security pact with Europe, may limit the expansion of future UK Indo-Pacific engagement.