ANKARA (AA) – Australia’s prime minister is expected to announce the country’s long-awaited submarine plans next month along with the US and UK leaders, local media reported on Thursday.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to travel to Washington next month to unveil the nuclear submarine option on American soil along with US President Joe Biden and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak, ABC News reported.
However, the Australian government has so far not officially confirmed that the event will be held in Washington.
Quoting Defense Minister Richard Marles last week, the broadcaster said the announcement of AUKUS was close.
"What you'll see is when we ultimately do announce the optimal pathway that we've been working on with both the United States and the United Kingdom," the broadcaster quoted him as saying.
"It really is a genuinely trilateral effort to see both the UK and the US provide Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine capability," Marles added.
AUKUS is a trilateral security treaty for the Indo-Pacific region launched on Sept. 15, 2021, by Australia, the US, and the UK.
Australia is also expected to host the US, Japanese and Indian leaders for the next Quad leaders meeting in Sydney in June.
The Indo-Pacific Quadrilateral Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, is a multilateral dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.
The latest report came after two influential US congressmen, Senator Jack Reed, and Republican Senator James Inhofe, raised serious concerns about the AUKUS deal and warned President Biden against any plan to sell or transfer Virginia-class submarines to Australia before the US Navy meets its current requirements, according to ABC.
In November last year, Albanese said that his country has not changed its position and will build a fleet of submarines under the AUKUS deal, despite criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron.
His statement came after Macron accused former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of provoking a "nuclear confrontation" with China and said he had helped Australia achieve "freedom and sovereignty" through the submarine deal.
Diplomatic relations between France and Australia soured in September 2021 when Australia signed the AUKUS deal with the US and the UK to get nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia also canceled its Future Submarine Program (FSP) with France’s Naval Group to buy 12 submarines worth €56 billion ($57.2 billion).
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid