NEW DELHI, India, March 19 ------ Australia has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to ease regional concerns over its acquisition of a fleet of nuclear submarines under the Aukus agreement, as Malaysia warned against potentially unleashing an “arms race” in the Asia-Pacific.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will visit Fiji on Wednesday for his first meeting with newly elected leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Australian Chief of Navy Mark Hammond is also expected to travel to Singapore and Indonesia to brief the nations’ leaders on the Aukus plan that was unveiled in the. The Aukus security deal—Australia, the UK and US—is part of a broader drive by Washington and its allies to boost their military assets in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Biden administration is aiming to send a signal to China that the US will respond to Beijing’s push to reclaim land and build military installations on disputed islands and atolls across the South China Sea. Albanese attended the announcement in San Diego on Monday alongside President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, ending 18 months of speculation about Australia’s nuclear submarine fleet following the signing of Aukus in September 2021.
Maintaining peace and stability in the region is the responsibility of all countries. It is critical for all countries to be a part of this effort,” the ministry said, reiterating that it expected Australia to comply with its non-proliferation treaty obligations.US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink traveled to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta last week to reassure Malaysia and Indonesia over the Aukus accord. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the submarine deal would “exacerbate” a regional arms race.