AUKUS nations mull expansion of security pact to deter China – Will India join?

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The AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) members are set to start talks on bringing new members onboard, said a report by the Financial Times on Saturday.

The AUKUS defence ministers will announce discussions on Monday on “Pillar Two” of the security pact, which commits the members to jointly develop quantum computing, undersea, hypersonic, artificial intelligence and cyber technology, the newspaper report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

US President Joe Biden has sought to build partnerships with American allies in Asia, including Japan and the Philippines, against China’s historic military build-up and its growing territorial assertiveness.

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In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, US ambassador in Tokyo Rahm Emanuel had written that Japan was “about to become the first additional Pillar II partner”.

The AUKUS nations are not considering expanding the first pillar, which is designed to deliver nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia, it added.

The 3-nation group was formed in 2021 as part of efforts to push back against China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific region. 

 

Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will likely discuss expanding AUKUS to include Japan when the president hosts the prime minister in Washington on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing a source with knowledge of the talks.

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However, Australia is wary of beginning new projects until more progress has been made on supplying Canberra with nuclear-powered submarines, the Reuters report also said. 

Earlier, the US had said that other countries in Europe and Asia are expected to join the second pillar of AUKUS. 

Will India become member of AUKUS?

According to a report by Mint published in March 2023, India and the AUKUS bloc were in informal exploratory talks on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber technologies.

Citing people aware of the matter, the report had said that the AUKUS nations were keen to cooperate with India on emerging technologies given New delhi’s strong scientific research and development capacity.

While Indian authorities had indicated initial interest, but no formal dialogue had taken place.

However, in an interview with WION in November 2023 Australia’s deputy prime minister & defence minister Richard Marles had said: “So pillar two of Aukus which is looking at sharing greater technologies innovation technologies, we think, the three countries Australia, the US and the UK, open-minded to the idea of expanding that cooperation but to be to begin with, we’ve got to get that part of Aukus pillar 2 going in a more significant way.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 07 Apr 2024, 05:36 PM IST

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