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UK-Australia defence pact could ‘go further’, says Boris Johnson

The UK and US are helping Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines as part of a defence deal announced last year (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The UK and US are helping Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines as part of a defence deal announced last year (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The UK’s defence pact with Australia could “go further”, Boris Johnson has told the country’s newly-elected prime minister.

Anthony Albanese became the new Australian leader after his centre-left Labour Party ousted the conservative coalition in Saturday’s elections.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister had “fulsomely” congratulated Mr Albanese on his victory during a phone call on Monday morning.

Australia signed a trilateral military deal with Britain and the US last year in an agreement that will see the two partners help Canberra to develop its own nuclear-powered submarines.

The allies also announced in April that they had agreed to work together on hypersonic and anti-hypersonic weaponry.

But Mr Johnson said he felt the relationship could be deepened as both leaders heralded the “exciting opportunities” presented by Aukus.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister told the new Australian leader that he wanted to congratulate him fulsomely on the big moment and said he looked forward to strengthening the UK-Australia relationship even further.

“Prime Minister Albanese thanked the Prime Minister and noted that the UK and Australia had a strong and historic friendship, stemming from their close Commonwealth ties.

“The pair agreed that there was more that could be done together.

“Both leaders agreed that there was strong alignment between their governments’ joint agendas, spanning across global security, climate change and trade.

“Discussing Aukus, the leaders strongly agreed on its vital importance and the exciting opportunities it provided.

“The Prime Minister said he thought the trilateral grouping could go further together in other domains, where both countries could collaborate for the global good.”

In a tweet about the conversation, Mr Albanese said he had “affirmed the strength of Australia’s close relationship with the United Kingdom” to Mr Johnson.

“We discussed our shared commitment to Aukus and to acting on the challenge of climate change,” the Australian leader said.

No 10 said the leaders also touched upon the conflict in Ukraine during their conversation, as well as trade.

The two countries signed a trade deal in December in an agreement that was welcomed by business groups but criticised by the agricultural sector, with the National Farmers’ Union describing the terms as “one-sided”.

“On trade, both leaders agreed the free trade agreement was incredibly important to both countries going forward, as well as the UK’s accession to the CPTPP trade bloc,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“The leaders agreed to stay in close touch, and hoped they would be able to meet in person soon.”

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