The prime minister is set to meet US President Joe Biden and Australian leader Anthony Albanese – and ministers hope a deal to purchase British-designed submarines will be announced.
Rishi Sunak has hailed the UK’s global alliances as its “greatest source of strength and security” as he prepared to meet Joe Biden to flesh out a major defence deal.
The prime minister is flying to San Diego on Sunday to discuss nuclear-powered submarines with the US President and Australian premier Anthony Albanese.
UK ministers have high hopes that Mr Albanese will announce the purchase of a British-designed fleet.
The UK, US and Australia agreed the AUKUS pact in 2021 to boost their defences and share nuclear submarine secrets at a time of growing concern over China.
While on the US west coast on Monday, Mr Sunak is also set to unveil the new integrated review of defence and foreign policy, which was being updated in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The refreshed review will set out the UK’s approach to threats from Moscow and an increasingly assertive China.
When the AUKUS pact was announced in 2021, it provoked a warning from China
Ahead of his trip, the prime minister said: “In turbulent times, the UK’s global alliances are our greatest source of strength and security.
“I am travelling to the United States today to launch the next stage of the AUKUS nuclear submarine programme, a project which is binding ties to our closest allies and delivering security, new technology and economic advantage at home.
“As we launch the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh tomorrow, this is the future we want to deliver – a UK that is secure, prosperous and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners.”
The prime minister also held a call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of his flight to the US.
Mr Sunak briefed the alliance chief on the UK’s upcoming defence review and reaffirmed the UK’s intention to remain a leading contributor to NATO.