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08 Apr 2024

AUKUS: UK, US and Australia to launch talks expanding defence pact

AUKUS: UK, US and Australia to launch talks expanding defence pact
UK MOD ' Crown copyright 2023/ All images are for illustrative purposes only.
Originally posted on City A.M. - Jessica Frank-Keyes

The UK, US and Australia are set to hold talks on new members joining the AUKUS defence and security pact, according to reports.

AUKUS defence ministers are expected to announce on Monday that discussions on ‘Pillar II’ – which focuses on technological collaboration – will open, the Financial Times reported.

It comes as some in the US are reportedly pushing for Japan to be brought into the alliance, dating back to September 2021, in a bid to shore up Western deterrence against China.

The pact is a trilateral security partnership across the Indo-Pacific from Australia to the UK and the United States, aimed at assisting Australia to secure nuclear-powered submarines.

The Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will also meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday before a US-Japan-Philippines trilateral meeting on Thursday.

Kishida and Biden are expected to announce plans for the most significant boost to the two nations’ security pact since 1960, the FT said.

Consultations on expanding AUKUS are seen as a compromise with those who are keen for Japan to formally become a member – which could see the alliance dubbed ‘JAUKUS’.

The US ambassador to Tokyo Rahm Emanuel also fuelled speculation when he said last week that Japan was “about to become the first additional Pillar II partner”.

However, there are reportedly concerns about Japan’s security systems with regard to highly sensitive information.

US deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell said the US was urging Tokyo to take measures, and recently commented: “Japan has taken some of those steps, but not all of them.”

Kishida told journalists last week that no formal decision had been made over Japan and AUKUS.

He said: “To achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific, we would like to continue various efforts to strengthen our co-operation with the US, Australia and the UK, who are important partners in security and defence.”

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