Fri, 22 Oct 2021

Wellington [New Zealand], September 16 (ANI): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on early Thursday while welcoming the announcement of trilateral security partnership between Australia, UK and US - AUKUS said that Australian nuclear submarines will be banned from New Zealand waters.

"New Zealand's position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear-powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged," Ardern said in a statement, reported Newshub.

Ardern welcomed the "increased engagement of the UK and the US" in the Pacific region as the countries announced a new security pact with Australia.

The new trilateral security partnership was announced in a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The AUKUS group was described by US President Joe Biden as a "historic step to deepen and formalise cooperation among all three of our nations" as they seek to ensure "peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific".

The pact, which will share information in key technological areas, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and nuclear submarines, is being considered by commentators as a counter to China's growing influence in the regionOne of the first projects will see collaboration on nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, reported New Zealand-based agency Newshub.

The development of Australia's nuclear-powered submarines would be a joint endeavour between the three nations, with a focus on interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.

As per ABC News, Australia's next submarine fleet will be nuclear-powered under an audacious plan that will see a USD 90 billion programs to build up to 12 French-designed submarines scrapped.

"France, in particular, has already substantial Indo-Pacific presence as a key partner and ally in strengthening security and prosperity of the region. The US looks forward to working closely with Franceother key countries as we go forward," said Biden.

She said this new group "in no way changes our security and intelligence ties with these three countries, as well as Canada".

"New Zealand is first and foremost a nation of the Pacific and we view foreign policy developments through the lens of what is in the best interest of the region," Ardern said.

"We welcome the increased engagement of the UK and US in the region and reiterate our collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of the international rules-based system," added Ardern.

However, Judith Collins, National's leader, said the trio of countries forming a partnership without New Zealand "is concerning". "It's disappointing that after many years of New Zealand's co-operation with our traditional allies, the current Government appears to have been unable to participate in discussions for 'AUKUS'. It raises serious concerns about the interoperability of New Zealand's defence force systems with our traditional allies in the future.

"Notwithstanding our anti-nuclear position which we haven't changed, the question the Government needs to answer first and foremost is were we consulted or at the table to discuss with a group of countries that we've considered likeminded for quite some time," said Collins. (ANI)

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