France said late Friday it was immediately recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia after Australia scrapped a major French conventional submarine purchase in favor of a nuclear sub built with American technology.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a written statement that France’s decision, at the request of President Emmanuel Macron, was “justified by the extraordinary seriousness of the declarations” made by Australia and the United States.
He said the announcement of Australia’s submarine deal with the US on Wednesday is “an unacceptable behavior between allies and partners.”
Earlier on Friday, a top French diplomat spoke of a “crisis” in relations with the US. and the United States regarding the Indo-Pacific strategy. “
He did not anticipate how this situation would affect France’s relations with the US “a crisis,” he insisted.
Mr Macron has not commented on the issue since US President Joe Biden announced a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and the UK that would have given France around $100 billion to build diesel-electric submarines. The US dollar deal was lost.
France has pushed for many years for a European strategy to boost economic, political and defense ties in a region spanning from India and China to Japan and New Zealand. The European Union revealed its plan for the Indo-Pacific this week.
The French diplomat said on Friday that Mr Macron received a letter from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday morning announcing the decision to scrap the submarine deal.
French officials then decided to contact the US administration “to ask what was going on,” he said. He said discussions with Washington took place just two to three hours before Mr Biden’s public announcement.
Mr Le Drian on Thursday expressed “absolute understanding” of the move and criticized both Australia and the US “It was really a stab in the back. We built a relationship of trust with Australia and this trust was betrayed.” “It’s not done between allies.”
He compared Mr Biden’s move to his predecessor Donald Trump’s move under the “America First” principle.
The diplomat said Paris had raised the issue of the Indo-Pacific strategy during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Paris on June 25, in which he expressed the importance of its submarine program with Australia.
“We said this was a very important and important component for us in our Indo-Pacific strategy,” he said. Mr. Blinken met Mr. Macron during the visit.
The French diplomat said Australia had never mentioned France before its desire to move to nuclear-powered submarines, including a meeting between Mr Macron and Mr Morrison in Paris on 15 June.
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