A great advisor for Joe Biden he declined to say whether the US is comfortable with the way the Australian government handled talks with France ahead of the unveiling of the new Aukus submarine deal.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, said there is no point in dwelling on the “challenges” surrounding the presentation of the new security partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, saying it “will be interesting for historians do at some point “.
Sullivan also said Thursday that the Biden administration will engage in “fierce competition” with China, but there is no reason to “turn into conflict or confrontation.”
Speaking to a webinar hosted by the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Sullivan said the Biden administration had agreed to share sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia to send a signal to allies that “if you bet with us, we will bet with you.” .
France said in September that it was “stabbed in the back” by its friends and allies for the cancellation of Australia’s previous $ 90 billion deal for French conventionally-propelled submarines in favor of the the so-called Aukus partnership.
In an effort to mend ties, Biden told French President Emmanuel Macron in Rome late last month that Aukus was awkwardly handled and that he thought France had previously been notified of the cancellation of the Australian submarine contract.
It was unclear whether Biden was talking about the Australian government or its staff or both.
Sullivan was asked by the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute, Michael Fullilove, if the Biden administration was comfortable with the way Canberra had handled the Aukus ad.
He replied that he would “dodge” the question because “there is no advantage in revisiting how we got to where we are.”
Sullivan acknowledged “that we faced some challenges in dealing with the launch” and the United States therefore sought to “engage intensively diplomatically with the French.”
He said the United States had presented “a very strong, meaningful and substantive action plan with the French on a number of issues, including that relating to the Indo-Pacific” and it was time to “delve into Aukus’ real work” . “.
“Where I sit today, the good news is ahead of us, and we will redeem the vision that our leaders have presented and it will be an incredibly good thing for our countries,” Sullivan said.
“Going through all the details of all this will be interesting to historians sooner or later, but as a national security advisor I have to keep my eyes on the present and the future.”
As part of the Aukus security partnership, announced to much fanfare in mid-September, the US, UK and Australia will work together on issues such as computing capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and subsea capabilities.
The first project is an 18-month joint study to find “the optimal route to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to Australia”.
Aside from the immediate concerns about the diplomatic relapses with France, observers and politicians in Australia have raised concerns that Australia faces a “capacity gap,” as the first submarines are likely not to be in the water until around 2040.
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating the plan said Wednesday that “like throwing a handful of toothpicks at the mountain”.
Sullivan said three countries are “deeply committed now to doing the actual work to make this happen in a way that meets the vision our leaders presented when they organized the virtual event together in September.”
He said the US has agreed to share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia – more than 60 years after sharing it with the UK – to increase “our collective and combined ability to produce greater stability, security and deterrence in the country. Indo-Pacific region “.
“It’s a statement to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to alliance rhetoric.”
In broader remarks, Sullivan attempted to allay concerns about the Biden administration’s approach amid mounting tensions with China.
He said the United States “will compete vigorously” with China in a number of areas, including economics and technology, and “uphold our values.” But he said the United States understood the need to “responsibly and collectively” manage the relationship.
“All this talk about the United States and China entering a new Cold War, or going into conflict, or the Thucydides trap – we have a choice not to,” Sullivan said.
Years after the Trump administration pulled the United States out of what was then called the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Sullivan said the Biden administration wanted to develop “a comprehensive, robust and attractive economic agenda for go hand in hand with our security and geopolitical agenda in the Indo-Pacific ”.
Sullivan said the strategy will address the kind of modern challenges facing Covid-19, “be it the realm of supply chains, the intersection of climate and trade, or digital, or investment screening and security controls. exports, in a number of areas. which traditionally were not part of the trade agreements “.
He said the United States wanted to get “a whole bunch of countries aligned around that” vision. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will visit Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia in the coming weeks.