10 March 2023

Security in Europe ‘intertwined’ with peace in Indo-Pacific, says Sunak

10 March 2023

Security in Europe is “intertwined” with peace in the Indo-Pacific, the Prime Minister has said, as he warned China to stay out of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

During the UK-France summit in Paris, Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to unveil a plan for increased allied activity in the Indo-Pacific.

No 10 said it will include establishing France and the UK as the “backbone” to a permanent European maritime presence there.

The approach will include co-ordinating regular deployment of France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carriers across the region.

We are two European nations that do genuinely project force and influence and are engaged around the world

Mr Sunak, speaking to reporters on board the Eurostar to the summit, said Paris and London were aligned when it came to their approach to the Indo-Pacific, with both declaring they want to be “active participants in the region”.

It comes after the UK in 2021 announced a foreign and defence policy “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific in the Government’s integrated review.

The Prime Minister said the UK and France were focused on the region “for the same reason”, adding: “The security is intertwined.”

He continued: “What we’re going to agree today is a really positive step forward, about the joint operations between our armed forces, (about) how we deploy our carrier groups, and how our navies work together.

“And we want to broaden that out over time.

“We are two European nations that do genuinely project force and influence and are engaged around the world.

“So it’s right that we’re collaborating closely and this today, hopefully (what) we will agree later, will be a more significant step forward than we’ve had in the past in that particular region.”

An update to the integrated review is set to be announced by Mr Sunak on Monday during a visit to the US, with new wording reportedly expected on Britain’s approach to Beijing.

Mr Sunak confirmed he and Mr Macron wanted to stress to China and other countries “not to be providing support to Russia” following its invasion of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister said he would be discussing the West’s approach to Beijing ahead of the French president’s visit to China, a trip he said was due to happen soon.

He added: “One thing that we’ve talked about previously in our G7 meetings as well, is a) about our collective economic security, but also ensuring that, as we support Ukraine, part of that is making sure that other countries – we’d urge all countries not to be providing support to Russia, or trying to circumvent sanctions.”

The leaders are also expected to sign-off on the UK and France collaborating to develop precision strike weapons to combat Russian aggression in Europe.

As well as the deal on weapons, the two leaders are also set to agree on working more closely on training Ukrainian marines and supplying weapons to Kyiv during the summit at the Elysee Palace.

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