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Heavy hitters: Biden sends high-level delegation to talk AUKUS

The Biden administration is sending a high-level delegation to Australia for a series of meetings to review the progress of the trilateral AUKUS defence technology partnership, a US official says.

Nov 07, 2023, updated Nov 07, 2023
President Joe Biden, center, speaks as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, left, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak listen at Naval Base Point Loma, Monday, March 13, 2023, in San Diego, as they unveil, AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain, and the United States. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

President Joe Biden, center, speaks as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, left, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak listen at Naval Base Point Loma, Monday, March 13, 2023, in San Diego, as they unveil, AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain, and the United States. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

AUKUS provides for the sale of US nuclear-powered submarines and sharing of nuclear-propulsion technology with Australia, as well as joint development of high-tech weaponry.

The three-way pact between Australia, the United States and Britain is the biggest defence project in Australian history and a response to China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific.

“We are building meaningful undersea capability among these three allies, we’re increasing our advanced technological collaboration, and we’re doing all of this in pursuit of a more stable and secure Indo-Pacific,” the US delegation’s leader Mara Karlin, the acting deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, said in an interview on Monday before her flight to Canberra.

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The US is also sending representatives from the State Department, the White House’s National Security Council staff, the Energy Department, which oversees the nuclear fuel to power submarines, and a smattering of Pentagon offices, Karlin said.

As a part of this week’s multi-day “deep dive” across the AUKUS agreement, Karlin said the Submarine Executive Group would meet to review progress on “Pillar One”, the historic sale of nuclear powered conventionally armed submarines to Australia.

The Advanced Capabilities Executive Group, comprised of the top policy personnel from the three countries’ defense establishments, will review progress on the “Pillar Two” efforts to advance co-operation and development in the fields of “artificial intelligence, quantum, cyber, electronic warfare, how we’re doing with innovation and information sharing”, Karlin said.

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met new US House Speaker Mike Johnson and said he hoped the US Congress would pass AUKUS legislation this year.

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