SYDNEY (Kyoto) – As China’s influence grows in the Pacific region, Australia and France have said they will increase defense cooperation by allowing their military bases to access each other under a new roadmap for bilateral relations.
The roadmap released on Monday is expected to use the existing legal framework. This would give Australian soldiers greater access to France’s military bases in the Pacific and Indian oceans, while allowing the French side to use Australian facilities more easily.
Speaking after meeting Australian Foreign Minister Benny Wong in Canberra, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna said the two countries’ armed forces enjoy good cooperation, but stressed the importance of interoperability through mutual access and increased joint operations.
„The Indo-Pacific is a top priority for France,” Colonna told a joint press conference on Monday.
„We are a nation of the Pacific. We are committed to increasing our cooperation with partners in the region,” Colonna said.
The two countries will increase strategic exchanges and sharing of intelligence under the roadmap, which outlines a path for cooperation in the fields of security, climate action and education and culture, according to the roadmap.
France and Australia have sought to strengthen their presence in the region in recent years amid concerns about China’s influence in Pacific island nations.
The joint deal marks a new chapter in the bilateral relationship following a diplomatic tussle following Australia’s decision to cancel a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with France in favor of acquiring nuclear submarines under AUKUS, a trilateral defense partnership that includes the US and Britain. .
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