Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Wednesday he plans to meet with President Joe Biden in the United States following a trip to India this week, amid speculation the leaders will make an announcement about Australia’s plans to build nuclear submarines.
Albanese gave few details of the US trip, saying there would be further announcements about the arrangements. Albanese is visiting India through Saturday.
Some media have speculated that Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could join Biden and Albanese in the US to make a joint announcement about the agreement among the three nations, which would see Australia build a fleet of nuclear submarines powered by U.S. technology.
Albanese on Wednesday wouldn’t say if he expected Sunak to also travel to the U.S.
“I’ll look forward to the continuing engagement that I have with the U.S. administration,” Albanese said.
Albanese made the remarks to reporters at Perth Airport before boarding his plane to India.
In India, Albanese plans to visit Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi, where he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“Australia and India are important partners,” Albanese said. ”We share common values. We are both vibrant democracies. We have an interest in improving our economic relations.” He said India, along with Indonesia, would grow to be the third- and fourth-largest economies in the world, which presented “an incredible opportunity” for Australia.
The previous Australian government infuriated France in 2021 by canceling a USD 66 billion contract for a French-built fleet of conventionally powered submarines and opting instead for nuclear-powered versions in a deal secretly brokered with the U.S. and Britain.
The deal came amid concern in Australia and the U.S. about China’s increasingly assertive presence in the Pacific region. Albanese has stood by the AUKUS agreement to embrace nuclear technology. An announcement on whether Australia will opt for a version of the U.S. Virginia-class or British Astute-class submarines is expected soon.