UK Defence leaders have visited Washington to hold talks with US and Australian partners.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Australia Richard Marles today for the first meeting of the AUKUS defence ministers.

Pictured: The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK Defence Secretary, speaks at a press conference onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Oslo, Norway, recently. Image: MOD Crown Copyright 2022. 

AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership announced in September 2021, comprising Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Meeting at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., all three nations reiterated their shared commitment to the partnership and reviewed progress on identifying a conventionally armed, nuclear‑powered submarine for the Royal Australian Navy.

They also agreed plans for joint military exercises in 2023 and 2024 which will further enhance partners’ abilities to operate together.

UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said:

This first trilateral meeting is a landmark moment in the AUKUS partnership.

AUKUS reflects the unique level of trust and cooperation the UK shares with its US and Australian partners, and I look forward to enhancing our technologies and capabilities together.

Discussions also covered the development of advanced capabilities including hypersonic weapons and undersea intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Richard Marles of Australia said:

AUKUS is a partnership built on trust, commitment and determination in the service of a secure and stable Indo-Pacific.

Together we hope to be able to progress developments in advanced capabilities and discuss the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said:

We announced this historic endeavor in September 2021, and the need for AUKUS is even clearer today.

More than ever, our three countries share a similar outlook on the key challenges and opportunities confronting our world.

The Defence Secretary and his counterparts also committed to continued transparency with international partners on AUKUS, emphasising that the partnership will complement existing security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific such as the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) and engage closely with them.

Joint Statement was issued following the meeting outlining AUKUS’ progress so far, as well as future commitments.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also conducted bilateral talks with his US and Australian counterparts.

Speaking with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Defence Secretary welcomed the publication of the new US National Defense Strategy which provides a narrative on Russia and China which strongly aligns with the UK’s own Integrated Review.

The Defence Secretary thanked Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Australia Richard Marles for the decision to deploy Australian Defence Force personnel to the UK to support the UK-led training programme for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which will commence in January 2023. The pair also discussed opportunities for even greater defence collaboration between the UK and Australia, in addition to the AUKUS partnership.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, and the Ministry of Defence’ Permanent Secretary David Williams were also in Washington for the AUKUS trilateral meeting. Both had separate meetings with their counterparts to discuss US-UK nuclear cooperation, support to Ukraine, and progress on the AUKUS partnership.

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