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Albo's AUKUS challenge at White House meeting

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will push for progress on Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines when he meets with US President Joe Biden to discuss the Indo-Pacific region.

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Albanese flew out for Washington on Sunday for a four-day official visit to the US for the ninth meeting between the two leaders since Albanese’s election victory in 2022.

Former prime minister and ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd says the embassy has been engaged with US politicians to discuss the AUKUS security partnership, which will share US and British technology with Australia.

“There’s been real progress in the passage of the relevant pieces of the AUKUS legislation,” he told ABC TV on Monday morning.

“We need to be patient, but I do see things moving in the right direction and the PM’s engagement on this in the days ahead will be of deep importance.”

The US House of Representatives is embroiled in a leadership crisis as the Republican Party remains unable to find a candidate for the speakership, but Rudd says Australian meetings will continue with Republicans and Democrats.

“I’m always inspired by the level of bipartisan support for what we’re seeking to do with AUKUS, not just in terms of the future of nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarines, but also our ambition to create a seamless Australia-US defence science and technology industry,” he said.

“I think this is on track but there’s still some hard roads to be crossed.”

Albanese said he would tell the US leader that providing support to the Indo-Pacific region was crucial.

“It’s very important that we remain focused on the Indo-Pacific region,” he told reporters ahead of his departure.

“We will certainly be urging the United States to continue what they have done, which is to step up in the region.”

The prime minister pointed to the Pacific Islands Forum, to be held in the Cook Islands next month, which he described as “very important”.

“We certainly support the president’s agenda, which has spoken about the role that the United States plays in the world,” he said.

Biden visited Tel Aviv last week, in a bid to ease mounting tension in the Middle East after Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

Asked if the US could simultaneously manage conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, the president confidently responded his nation could do both.

Albanese said his message will be it remains “critical” to continue supporting Ukraine in the face of a drawn-out war with Russia.

Security experts are concerned China may seek to take Taiwan by force, leading to a “catastrophic” war in the Indo-Pacific, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rudd said the US had already “demonstrated its ability to manage these challenges on three fronts at once.”

He said the Middle East crisis would be a significant part of Mr Albanese’s discussions with the US president.

“The Middle East is a core part of America’s concerns, it’s a core part of Australia’s concerns.

“I think all of us who have followed the Middle East closely over the years are deeply concerned about the possibility of escalation,” Rudd said.

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