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Scott Morrison and Joe Biden form united front in face-to-face meeting

Scott Morrison says he has Australia’s best interests at heart in response to France’s criticism of US nuclear submarine deal.

Despite international criticism from China and Europe, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Joe Biden are continuing to showcase the strong relationship between Australia and the US to the public.

Morrison and Biden met face-to-face for the first time in New York, where the US President declared Australia as America’s closest and most reliable ally.

Joe Biden Scott Morrison
Image: AP

The United States has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia – our nations have been together for a long time,” said Biden.

The United States and Australia are working in lockstep on the challenges that I laid out today in my speech to the United Nations: ending COVID, addressing the climate crisis, defending democracy and shaping the rules of the road for the 21st century.”

The much-anticipated meeting came as European leaders intensified their criticisms of the two countries for breaking the $90 billion contract with France to build a fleet of submarines.

Australia will always pursue our national sovereign interests. That is my responsibility,” said Morrison.

And in pursuing those interests, we must ensure that not only our security interests are addressed, but also our broader economic issues.”

Australia decided to pull out of the deal for 12 French-built submarines last Thursday to forge a new defence relationship with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), which will see Australia gain a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Morrison said Australia and European officials had been working on trade issues for years, and the situation was complex.

There was never going to be an easy way to not proceed with this contract. To think there was would be naive,” he said.

Of course, there’s understandable recognition of the disappointment for France.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged the concerns in south-east Asia and Europe about the submarines pact, saying that the AUKUS alliance was not trying to exclude “friends in the ASEAN nations or Europe or elsewhere“.

It goes to global prosperity, it goes to global freedom, the freedom of our seas, the freedom of our region,” he said.

It goes to addressing the great global challenges of climate change, a new energy economy and a very challenging future but one that I have no doubt our partnership is able to address.”

Morrison also agreed with the President’s goal of getting to zero carbon emissions by 2050, “We are going to see the most profound transition of the global energy economy we have seen in a very long time.”

This statement comes just a week after Australia’s climate change inaction was labelled a threat to national security by a senior UN official.