Marles, Wong to conduct European tour to strengthen ties
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, will travel to France and the United Kingdom to strengthen ties in light of growing global security challenges.
This trip will include the second Australia-France Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations (2+2), which will take place on 30 January in Paris, and the Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN), which will be held from 1 to 2 February in London and Portsmouth.
In France, discussions with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna and Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu will develop and align French and Australian responses to the increasingly challenging strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific and in Europe.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP, said, “In an increasingly challenging strategic environment, our longstanding defence relationships with France and the United Kingdom are essential to promoting stability, protecting the rules-based order and avoiding further conflict.”
The ministers will progress work towards a bilateral roadmap to strengthen collaboration across defence and security, resilience and climate action, and education and culture.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, added, “The Australian government is committed to an enduring and productive bilateral relationship with France. Deepening practical cooperation with France in the Indo-Pacific, reflecting the priorities of our partners, is critical to our vision of regional stability.”
The meeting with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will focus on modernising the bilateral relationship, elevating cooperation to tackle climate change, building economic resilience and contributing to global peace and security.
Senator Wong will also meet with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in Brussels. Australia’s partnerships with Europe and the UK work to foster a world that is peaceful, stable and prosperous, and in which sovereignty is respected.
Following these meetings in France and the United Kingdom, the Deputy Prime Minister will travel to the United States to meet with his counterpart, Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J Austin III.
The Deputy Prime Minister added, “The visit to the United Kingdom also provides an important opportunity to discuss AUKUS” raising questions about whether similar conversations will be held with his US counterpart ahead of an announcement expected for the release of the Defence Strategic Review and a decision on Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in March.