Biden forges ahead with partners in new defense alliance

Washington, Sep 21 (EFE).- The president of the United States reaffirmed his commitment to the new defense alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia on Tuesday with bilateral meetings with their respective leaders, despite the diplomatic rift with France.

After his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Joe Biden met with Australian leader Scott Morrison at a hotel in New York and then received UK leader Boris Johnson at the White House.

Although the anger of France has resulted in recalls of its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra, neither Biden nor his two partners in the new geostrategic AUKUS alliance for the Indo-Pacific referred directly to the diplomatic crisis.

The leaders did speak of the pact that aims to confront China and that some see as the start of a new Cold War.

“Our partnership is in line with all the other democracies in the world,” stressed Biden, after criticism received for having left the rest of the Western partners out of the pact.

Morrison thanked Biden for his leadership and focus on the Indo-Pacific region, adding that the bilateral relationship is about “a world order that favors freedom.”

In the afternoon, Johnson said that the AUKUS alliance “has great potential to benefit the whole world.”

In none of the appearances did the three leaders respond to multiple questions from journalists about their relationships with France, which accuses the US and Australia of disloyalty and of having broken the necessary trust between allies.

However, after the meeting with Johnson, the White House released a statement saying that Biden spoke with his British counterpart about “the critical role of European allies and partners, including NATO and the EU” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Earlier, at the UN, Johnson had stated that the relationship between the UK and France is “indestructible,” and that the AUKUS pact that has left Paris and other Western partners out is “not exclusionary, it’s not divisive and it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Biden is scheduled to speak by phone with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, but his schedule this week shows that he is not at all willing to back down on his plans in the Indo-Pacific.

On Friday, Biden will meet in Washington with leaders from the Quad alliance – Morrison, Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Narendra Modi from India.

The rift with France began after the announcement last week that Australia, the UK and the US had reached a defense pact whereby Washington and London will help Canberra develop nuclear-powered submarines.

That caused Australia to cancel a $66 billion French contract for 12 conventionally-powered submarines, which angered Paris, who only learned of the plans a few hours before the official announcement through the media.

France has protested with various gestures, including the unprecedented recalling of its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra. The latest move, made public Tuesday, was the cancellation of a meeting between the defense ministers of France and the UK. EFE


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