UK to hand over fleet of nuclear submarines to Australia: Reports
The Daily Mail says the UK will deploy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia to deter China's influence in the region.
The United Kingdom will deploy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in a bid to contain China's influence in the region, UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported on Friday.
According to the newspaper, the head of the UK armed forces Tony Radakin is expected to reach an agreement on the issue at a naval conference in Sydney next week, thereby accomplishing London's commitment under the AUKUS security alliance of Australia, the UK, and the US.
The submarines will be stationed on the west coast of Australia in the city of Perth until 2024 to carry out patrol operations. Australian submarine officers will be integrated into the UK crew to enhance their skills, the newspaper added.
The Royal Navy has declined to disclose how many of its submarines may be dispatched to Australia, saying that all operational details regarding the UK submarine fleet are classified. The UK Defense Ministry has also refused to comment on the issue, the Daily Mail said.
Australian PM hails new start of relations with France
Following the AUKUS row that took place last year, in which Australia broke off a submarine contract with France in favor of establishing AUKUS, ties between Paris and Canberra are off to a new beginning.
On June 1, Australian PM Anthony Albanese welcomed a "new start" in relations with France after he met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
"My presence here represents a new start for our countries' relationship," Albanese said after arriving at the Elysees Palace.
"Australia's relationship with France matters. Trust, respect and honesty matter. This is how I will approach my relations," he added.
On his part, the French President said the first talks between him and Albanese since the latter won the elections in May "mark a willingness to rebuild a relationship of trust between our two countries, a relationship based on mutual respect."
Macron further noted the two countries' strategic partnership, shared war history in Europe, and their joint interests in "stability in the Pacific region," alluding to China.
The Australian government agreed in June to pay Aus$830 million ($579 million) to the French Naval Group in restitution for former Prime Minister Scott Morrison's administration's controversial decision to cancel the French attack class submarine project.
“This is a fair and an equitable settlement which has been reached. It follows, as well, discussions that I’ve had with President [Emmanuel] Macron and I thank him for those discussions and the cordial way in which we are re-establishing a better relationship between Australia and France,” Albanese said.
Established in September 2021, the AUKUS partnership aims to provide Australia with its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, with at least eight submarines planned to be delivered.
Russia and China have raised concerns about the security challenges in the region stemming from the AUKUS establishment, saying it could result in the collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.