US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Friday that Abraham Denmark would serve as his senior adviser on the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) trilateral partnership, Defense Department acting spokesperson Todd Breasseale said on Friday.
“Today, Secretary Austin named Abraham Denmark to serve as his senior adviser on AUKUS,” Breasseale said in a statement. “In this role, Mr. Denmark will advise the secretary and coordinate efforts across the [Defense] Department to move rapidly in delivering on the promise of this historic partnership to help Australia establish a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability and to accelerate the development of advanced capabilities to serve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,”
Denmark already served in the Defense Department from 2015-2017 as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, the statement said.
In the past several years, Denmark worked as vice president of programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, the statement added.
France-Australia Spat Over Nuke Subs
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had accused the then Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, of lying to him by not revealing secret talks with the United States and the United Kingdom on the acquisition of nuclear submarines.
Australia dumped the $66 billion contract to buy 12 diesel-powered submarines from France’s Naval Group company in favor of a defense pact, called AUKUS, with the US and the United Kingdom, under which the partners promised to enhance Australia’s fleet with nuclear-powered submarines.
Commenting on the relations with Australia on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, the French president said that he had a lot of “respect and friendship” for Australia, but that he considers that respect should be reciprocal, adding that “when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistent with this value.”
When asked whether he thinks that the Australian prime minister had lied to him about the AUKUS secret negotiations with the US and the UK, Macron replied, “I don’t think, I know.”
The French president had also said that he doubts that the AUKUS nuclear submarines would arrive on time, adding that Australia will have to wait 18 months as the AUKUS partners carry out the feasibility study to assess the capabilities for production and operation of the new submarines under the contract.
Morrison dismissed the accusations of having lied to the French president over the secret talks on the acquisition of nuclear submarines, noting that at the time they met at the Elysee Palace last time, Australia had no agreements concluded with any other parties.
On September 15 last year, Morrison, together with then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, declared the formation of the new AUKUS defense and security partnership to protect the countries’ shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
The first initiative announced under the AUKUS defense pact was the creation of nuclear-powered submarine technology for the Royal Australian Navy, so the Australian government decided to abandon the $66 billion agreement with France’s Naval Group company for the construction of diesel-electric submarines, prompting an angry reaction from France, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accusing Canberra of betraying the mutual trust between the countries.