ANKARA (AA) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday rejected criticism of the AUKUS deal with the US and UK made by his country's former Premier Paul Keating, saying the world has changed since the 1990s.
Albanese said in an interview with a local Radio 3AW Melbourne that he does not want to get into an argument with Paul Keating.
“I fundamentally disagree with his view. And I disagree with his attitude towards the state of the world in 2023,” he said, according to a transcript posted on his official website.
Keating, who was prime minister from 1991 to 1996, slammed Albanese's government on Wednesday for a tripartite deal with the US and UK to build a nuclear submarine, calling it the Labor party's worst international decision.
“Every Labor Party branch member will wince when they realize that the party we all fight for is returning to our former colonial master, Britain, to find our security in Asia – two hundred and thirty-six years after Europeans first grabbed the continent from its Indigenous people,” Keating said at the National Press Club in Canberra.
He said China is not a threat or issue for Australia.
Albanese, however, disagreed with his party's former leader, saying China's posture and positioning in global affairs have changed since the 1990s.
"My position on China is that we should cooperate where we can but disagree where we must. And we disagree with China with its attitude towards human rights. We disagree with some of its actions in the South China Sea. We disagree with its much more forward-leaning position in our region," he said.
On Monday, Australia announced its deal to buy at least three conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines under a trilateral security partnership with the US and UK, and the nations will work in tandem to develop a new "cutting edge" submarine.
The sale of the three Virginia-class submarines from the US will be subject to congressional approval, and Australia will be given the option of buying two more "if needed," US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Albanese, and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak said in a joint statement.
On Sept. 15, 2021, the nations announced the formation of AUKUS, a trilateral security treaty for the Indo-Pacific region. It is primarily intended for China, which is becoming more assertive in the region.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid