The United Nations (UN) is aware of the reports of the diplomatic rift between the United States, China and France over the new security partnership with the UK and Australia (AUKUS) and emphasizes the importance of dialogue to resolve all regional tensions, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing on Friday.
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“We’re aware reports,” Dujarric said. We would just emphasize the importance of dialogue to resolving regional tensions and maintaining a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.
Earlier this week, the US, Australia and the UK announced a new trilateral AUKUS defense partnership. The allies stress that it is not directed against anyone, but the initiative is perceived as a response to China’s growing capabilities and ambitions.
The new defensive pact forced Canberra to give up on a $66 billion contract with France to develop 12 state-of-the-art conventionally powered attack submarines, as the defensive alliance promises to enhance Australia’s fleet with nuclear-powered submarines.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referred to the deal as “a stab in the back,” and the French Embassy in Washington canceled a reception set for Friday to celebrate the US-French alliance dating back to the American War of Independence.
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Meanwhile, the Philippines acknowledges Australia’s right to acquire a nuclear submarine fleet and intends to build up its own defense capabilities in the region, the country’s defense ministry announced on Friday.
“Lorenzana acknowledged Australia’s right to improve its submarine defense capability and highlighted that, as a country strategically situated in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is also building its own capability to protect its territories,” the ministry said following the phone conversation between Philippine Foreign Minister Delfin Lorenzana and his Australian counterpart, Peter Dutton.
Lorenzana noted that Manila strives to maintain good defense relations with all of its regional partners. Australia, in turn, assured the Philippines that its nuclear submarines will not be armed with nuclear weapons. Dutton stressed that Australia wants to be seen as a “neighbor that promotes regional peace.”
Several countries, including Russia and Indonesia, have expressed their concern over the partnership and called for compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Indonesia while adopting a cautious approach has voiced its concern over alleged power projection in the region, the country’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
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“Indonesia takes note cautiously of the Australian Government’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it is “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.”
Jakarta also urged Australia to uphold its commitment to regional peace under the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.
“Indonesia encourages Australia and other parties concerned to advance dialogue in settling any differences peacefully. In this regard, Indonesia underscores the respect for international law, including UNCLOS 1982, in maintaining peace and security in the region,” the ministry added.