According to reports, France has canceled a summit with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to protest the submarine deal between Australia, Britain and the US.
Two sources told Reuters that French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly personally took the decision to cancel the bilateral meeting, which was due to take place in London this week.
The adjournment of the Franco-British Council – which Ms Parly would have addressed during her visit – was alsoUK-france-defense-summit-cancelled-in-aucasus-row Guardian by Peter Ricketts, co-president of the organization.
It follows Australia’s decision to scrap a multi-billion-pound submarine deal with France in favor of a new Ocus Security partnership with the US and UK.
France reacted to the announcement by recalling its ambassadors in Canberra and Washington, while Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the move a “stab in the back” and accused Australia of “lies and duplicity”.
However the French ambassador to Britain was not recalled and British officials hoped that the London meeting would still go ahead.
The Defense Ministry declined to comment on reports that the meeting had been called off.
A French government spokesman said on Sunday that US President Joe Biden would speak to Emmanuel Macron on the issue during a call “over the next few days”.
Gabriel Attal told news channel BFM TV that France would seek “clarification” from Australia on the cancellation of the submarine deal, including discussions on compensation.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his decision to end the submarine deal with France, claiming the concerns had been flagged months earlier.
“I do not regret Australia’s decision to put the national interest first,” Morrison said at a briefing on Sunday.
“This is an issue that I raised directly a few months ago and we continued to talk about those issues, which involved the Defense Minister and others.”
China has also criticized the Ocus partnership, accusing Australia, Britain and the US of being caught in a “Cold War mentality” and showing “ideological bias”.
Additional reporting by agencies
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /