Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has touched down in New York as he prepares for a series of high-profile visits, including with U.S. President Joe Biden and fellow leaders of Quad nations’ India and Japan.
The meeting comes amid the backdrop of last week’s AUKUS announcement which saw the U.S. and UK governments commit to assisting Australia with the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, a move designed to counter further aggression from Beijing in the Indo-Pacific region.
Morrison’s RAAF jet landed at John F Kennedy international airport around 8 a.m. Australian time on Sept. 21, after travelling from Sydney via Hawaii for most of Monday.
“I’m very pleased to be here in the United States,” he told reporters on the airport tarmac. “We have great friends and partners and allies all around the world and over the course of this week I will have the opportunity to pursue those shared goals, based on shared values.”
When questioned on the possibility of meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Morrison said it was unlikely.
“It was not possible for us to be able to discuss such secure issues in relation to our dealing with other countries at that time,” he said.
“We had made it very clear; I had made it very clear, that a conventional submarine would no longer be meeting our strategic interests and what we needed those boats to do.”
The formation of AUKUS saw Australia cancel its $90 billion Future Submarine program with French defence contractor, Naval Group. The cancellation, and perception that Australia, U.S., and UK leaders had been planning AUKUS in the background while meeting with French government representatives, has contributed to an angry response from France at the deal.
On Sept. 17, France withdrew its ambassadors from the United States and Australia in protest.
Meanwhile, the Quad leaders will likely discuss cooperation around COVID-19 vaccine production, climate change, and critical and emerging technologies.
Beijing will likely figure in the discussions as well, including the implications of AUKUS—which has been welcomed by India.
Morrison will also address the United Nations General Assembly via a pre-recorded virtual speech.
He will also meet with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Washington D.C.