Morrison departs for Quad meeting in U.S. amid submarine row

Australian PM Scott Morrison

Australian PM Scott Morrison

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday departed for Washington to meet with leaders of the Quad grouping amid criticism over his government’s decision to abandon a $40 billion submarine deal with France.

Australia last week said it would scrap a deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership.

France has said the relationship with Australia and the United States is in “crisis” and has recalled its ambassadors from both countries.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will also attend the leaders’ meeting of the Quad group later this week.

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The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is a strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries.

The Quad will discuss COVID-19, climate change and regional security, two sources familiar with the schedule said.

“This is all about ensuring that Australia’s sovereign interests will be put first to ensure that Australians here can live peacefully with the many others in our region,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney as he boarded the plane to Washington.

New agreements furthering cooperation between the four countries are expected, but Australia will not announce strengthened climate targets sought by the United States, one senior government source said.