Australia Signs Security Accord with Britain  

Sydney — Australia and the United Kingdom signed a new defense and security cooperation agreement Thursday that deepens the strategic relationship between the two nations, makes it easier for their defense forces to operate together in each other’s countries, and boosts a fledgling nuclear-powered submarine program with the United States.

Australia has said the new security and defense treaty updates its longstanding relationship with Britain “to meet contemporary challenges.”

Australia Defense Minister Richard Marles said in a statement that as “the world becomes more complex and uncertain, we must modernize our most important relationships.”

The new accord signed Thursday builds on the 2021 AUKUS alliance, which is designed to allow Australia to build a new multibillion-dollar fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with help from the United States and Britain.

Marles later told reporters in Canberra that a far-reaching pact with Britain was fundamental to Australia’s national security.

“It does reflect a relationship that has become much more strategic, a relationship which has a much bigger national security dimension,” he said. “To that end, the U.K. has a much greater presence in the Indo-Pacific than we have seen in a very long time. We also spoke today about AUKUS, which is, perhaps, at the heart of the contemporary strategic relationship between our two countries.”

Britain’s defense minister, Grant Shapps, is in Australia for the annual Australia-U.K. Ministerial (AUKMIN) meetings, which were first held in 2006. Officials said bilateral talks would also include support for Ukraine, peace in the Middle East, gender-based violence in the Pacific, climate change and trade.

The defense treaty signed Thursday includes provisions to make it easier for Australian and British forces to work together in each other’s countries, much like the joint training of Ukrainian troops in Britain. There will also be closer collaboration on undersea warfare, intelligence and military exercises.

Shapps told a news conference in Canberra that the treaty would enhance global efforts to maintain peace.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in all of these many, many different ways, and the thing which has struck me most in my first few hours with you here today is the extent to which distance is absolutely no object to us at all because we stand united in our view of the world and what needs to be done and we are proactive nations that are prepared to stand up and make sure that we do maintain the world order,” he said.

The announcement of the new defense accord between Canberra and London comes a day after Australia hosted a visit by China’s most senior diplomat, the foreign minister Wang Yi.

Analysts have said that China’s increasing assertiveness is a key motivation behind the trilateral AUKUS agreement, but China has accused Australia, Britain and the United States of a “Cold War mentality,” saying the alliance was embarking on a “path of error and danger.”

Thursday, the Canberra government has also announced a new multi-million-dollar deal to send army vehicles to Germany. In one of the biggest defense export deals in Australian history, 100 Boxer armored vehicles will be sent to the German army.

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