Sunak to travel to US for nuclear submarine talks with US and Australia leaders

Rishi Sunak will fly to San Diego on Sunday for nuclear submarine programme talks. Credit: PA

On Sunday, the prime minister will fly to the United States for talks on the next phase of a nuclear submarine programme, in partnership with the US and Australia.

Rishi Sunak will meet President Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese to for an AUKUS meeting - a security alliance between the three nations.

It comes as the UK Government prepares to publish an update to the 2021 Integrated Review, to set out how the nation will respond to potential security threats to Britain.

The meeting, titled Integrated Review Refresh, will address what the government describes as 'grave risks' from Putin’s Russia, and the behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party to Britain's economy and energy security.

Australian PM Anthony Albanese (L) will meet PM Rishi Sunak (R) and US President Joe Biden on Sunday Credit: PA

The talks, which will be held in San Diego, California, on Sunday afternoon and Monday, ensure 'the UK is at the cutting edge of defence capability, technology and economic resilience,' according to Number 10.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “In turbulent times, the UK’s global alliances are our greatest source of strength and security.

“I am travelling to the United States today to launch the next stage of the AUKUS nuclear submarine programme, a project which is binding ties to our closest allies and delivering security, new technology and economic advantage at home.

“As we launch the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh tomorrow, this is the future we want to deliver – a UK that is secure, prosperous and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners.”

Mr Sunak last week met with French President Emmanuel Macron, smoothing out relations after they hit a low point with the September 2021 signing of the Aukus deal, which saw Australia ditch France in favour of an agreement with the UK and US.

Negotiations over the last 18 months have presented the Canberra government with a choice between a British or US design.

Reports suggest Australia could opt for a modified version of the British Astute-class submarine, plugging the gap until it enters into service in the 2040s with up to five American Virginia boats.

The UK hopes that Aukus will result in work for British shipyards such as BAE Systems’ facility in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Mr Sunak’s first visit to the US as Prime Minister comes in another crucial week for his leadership, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt setting out the Budget on Wednesday.

Defence minister James Heappey acknowledged there has been “robust” public and private clashes between the Ministry of Defence and Treasury over funding levels.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been arguing for a multibillion-pound hike to his budget.

San Diego, in the state of California, where Mr Sunak used to live, is home to the US Pacific Fleet.

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