White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday, 22 September, ruled out including India or Japan in the new trilateral security partnership ‘AUKUS’ with Australia and UK, under which Australia will get a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
Psaki was responding to a question of including India or Japan in view of the first in-person Quad Summit (comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia), for which leaders from the four countries will be in Washington this week.
The AUKUS alliance was jointly announced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 15 September.
‘Stabbed in the Back’: France
The announcement also enraged France, which was already negotiating a deal to build conventional submarines for Australia and termed the move as being "stabbed in the back".
France publicly expressed its outrage at the AUKUS alliance and in an unprecedented move, recalled its ambassador to the US and Australia after the security deal was announced.
Psaki was quoted as saying, "The announcement of AUKUS last week was not meant to be an indication, and I think this is the message the President also sent to (French President Emmanuel) Macron, that there is no one else who will be involved in security in the Indo-Pacific”, news agency PTI reported.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden will be hosting the in-person Quad summit at the White House on 24 September.
Responding to the question if India or Japan will be included, Psaki answered in a lighter tone saying, "AUKUS? What would it become? JAUKUS? JAIAUKUS?"
The security alliance is being seen as an effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, by providing Australia with the technology to develop nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
Meanwhile, China has severely criticised the alliance, saying that such exclusive grouping has no future as it will gravely undermine regional stability, aggravate the arms race and hurt international non-proliferation efforts.
In a bid to mend ties, Biden and Macron have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives.
(With inputs from PTI)
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