Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese travels Monday to the United States for a four-day visit, hoping to make progress on the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal.
Australia’s formal security ties with the United States date to the early 1950s.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Canberra Monday that “the alliance between Australia and the United States is central to Australia’s foreign policy.”
His official visit to the U.S. will include Albanese’s ninth meeting with President Joe Biden in the past 16 months.
The Australian Prime Minister said he will hold talks with members of the U.S. Congress about the legislation that’s needed to ensure the progress of the AUKUS alliance. Australian media have reported that some U.S. lawmakers have significant concerns about the pact.
AUKUS is a trilateral accord announced in September 2021 with the United States and Britain that would give Australia access for the first time to nuclear-powered submarines.
It is estimated the agreement could cost Australia up to $244 billion and is widely seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Kevin Rudd is Australia’s Ambassador to the United States and a former Prime Minister.
He told the Australia Broadcasting Corp. Monday that the AUKUS partnership would be a key part of Albanese’s visit to Washington, along with talks on clean energy.
“Ensuring that all the relevant AUKUS legislation finds its way successfully through the U.S. Congress,” Rudd said. “Two, broadening the economic relationship in information technology, defense technology as well as clean energy technology and beyond that again, to enhance our clean energy compact and new work together on critical minerals.”
China has previously criticized the AUKUS accord, accusing the United States, Britain and Australia of going “down a dangerous road for their own selfish political gains … in complete disregard of the concerns of the international community.”
Sunday, Albanese confirmed he would visit Beijing in early November to meet President Xi Jinping.
A dispute over Australian wine exports at the World Trade Organization has been suspended as both countries try to defuse long-running trade and diplomatic tensions.
China has agreed to review controversial tariffs on imports of Australian wine. In return, the government in Canberra is suspending its action in the WTO.
The tariffs were imposed in 2020 as bilateral relations rapidly deteriorated over various geopolitical disputes. Restrictions on other Australian commodities, including barley, have already been lifted. Albanese has taken a less confrontational approach to China than the previous conservative government he defeated in an election last year.
In Washington this week, Albanese will attend a state dinner and an Oval Office meeting with President Biden.