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AUKUS meetings wrap up as Australia eyes off nuclear submarines

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Australia's defence minister

The first AUKUS meetings wrap up in Washington as Australia eyes off nuclear submarines

The first round of AUKUS meetings have wrapped up, with U.S. Defence Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin praising the talks as an “historic endeavour”.

Following an agreement made in Washington, Australia will have nuclear-powered submarines at the “earliest possible date”.

Defence Secretary Austin joined Australia’s Richard Marles and the UK’s Ben Wallace at the Pentagon. The leaders discussed key challenges and opportunities confronting the world right now.

High on the agenda was the contentious Indo-Pacific region, in response to “ongoing Chinese aggression”.

The meeting comes as Australia looks to move away from its conventional Collins-class subs and invest in nuclear-powered vessels.

The U.S. reaffirming its commitment to ensure its pacific partner will acquire this capability at the earliest possible date.

Australia’s Deputy PM and Defence Minister Richard Marles says the submarines are “central” to advancing the military capabilities of the alliance.

“There is an enormous sense of shared mission and momentum across all three countries, in having Australia acquire a nuclear powered submarine,” Marles said.

“The significance of that step shouldn’t be lost on people. There’s only been one occasion where a country has shared that capability with another. That was the United States with the United Kingdom a long time ago.”

But while we’ve heard the meetings went well, leaders are remaining tight-lipped about the exact details and any deals that have been made.

AUKUS has set a target of March 2023 to figure out a plan for Australia to acquire the nuclear subs.

William is an Executive News Producer at TICKER NEWS, responsible for the production and direction of news bulletins. William is also the presenter of the hourly Weather + Climate segment. With qualifications in Journalism and Law (LLB), William previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before moving to TICKER NEWS. He was also an intern at the Seven Network's 'Sunrise'. A creative-minded individual, William has a passion for broadcast journalism and reporting on global politics and international affairs.

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U.S. fighters shoot down Chinese spy balloon – now what?

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U.S. military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, drawing to a close a dramatic saga that shone a spotlight on worsening Sino-U.S. relations.

“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.

Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing down to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.

China has mounted “the largest intelligence operation in the history of the human race” against the US and Australia, a former top US intelligence official has warned, as the US military shot down a Chinese spy balloon as it neared the Atlantic coast above the Carolinas.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one — an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia — took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior U.S. military official said.

The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the U.S. coast, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover key elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment among the debris in the coming days, officials said.

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Russia throws more troops at Ukraine front line

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the situation on the front lines in the east of the country is getting tougher and Russia was throwing more and more troops into battle.

Russian forces are slowly gaining ground in the Donbas region, encircling the city of Bakhmut north of Donetsk and battling to take control of a nearby road which is a major supply route for Ukrainian forces. They are also trying to capture Vuhledar, southwest of Donetsk.

“I’ve often had to say the situation at the front is tough, and is getting tougher, and it’s that time again. … The invader is putting more and more of his forces into breaking down our defences,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

“It is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Lyman and other directions,” he continued.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that Russian efforts to break the defences in Bakhmut and Lyman had failed.

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Balloon diplomacy blows China off course

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China claims an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and voiced regret that it strayed into U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials said on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement late on Friday, China’s foreign ministry also said that it would continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

“The airship is from China and is civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of westerly winds and its limited control capability, the airship deviated from its intended course,” it said.

“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States by mistake due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. side to properly handle this accident,” it said.

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