Secretary Delfin N. Lorenza and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton of Australia engaged in a telephone conversation on 17 September 2021. The call marks the first bilateral engagement between the two defense ministers since Minister Dutton assumed his position as Australia’s Minister for Defence in 2021.
Minister Dutton informed Secretary Lorenzana about the recent announcements made by Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) on their trilateral pact, referred to as the AUKUS alliance, and Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
The Minister conveyed that Australia is concerned about the peace and stability in the region and that the intention to acquire submarines is to develop Australia’s capability to protect its territories as well as that of its friends in the region. The Australian side clarified that the submarines will be nuclear-powered but will not be armed with nuclear weapons. Minister Dutton also underscored that Australia wants to be seen as a neighbor that promotes regional peace.
Secretary Lorenzana acknowledged Australia’s right to improve its submarine defense capability and highlighted that, as a country strategically situated in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is also building its own capability to protect its territories. He remarked that the Philippines would like to maintain its good bilateral defense relations with all countries in the region. The Secretary also expressed hope to meet the Minister in person soon.