France Recalls Ambassadors To US & Australia, Outraged Over Submarine Deal
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian late on Friday confirmed France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in protest of the landmark pact between the US, UK and Australia announced Wednesday, which will see Washington assist Australia with nuclear-powered submarine development.
Paris says the ambassadors were called back for “consultations” – also citing comments made by Australia and the US after the ‘AUKUS’ was announced. Le Drian earlier described Australia’s scrapping of the €50 billion deal for France to deliver submarines, which had been negotiated since 2016, “a stab in the back.”
France had further called Australia’s cancelation of the agreement a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision.”
The initial French sub contract with Australia, which had been first agreed to in 2016, was for France to build 12 conventionally powered submarines modelled on Barracuda nuclear-powered subs.
Australia has never possessed nuclear-powered subs, and with this new US technology sharing partnership is expected to soon join an elite few number of powerful countries who operate nuclear submarines globally.
BREAKING: Wow… France has decided to immediately recall its ambassadors to the U.S. & Australia to Paris for consultations following defence deal, AUKUS. It’s at request of Macron. French foreign ministry says deal represents “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners”. pic.twitter.com/H1qonSXpWv
— Andrew Connell (@andrewiconnell) September 17, 2021
“It’s really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed,” French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Thursday just as Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deal, which is widely seen as aimed at countering China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also expressed shock, saying “This alliance we have only just been made aware and we weren’t even consulted,” he said, also indicating he only found out through media reports. “As high representative for security, I was not aware and I assume that an agreement of such a nature wasn’t just brought together overnight. I think it would have been worked on for quite a while.”
“We regret not having been informed – not having been part of these talks,” Borrell added. “We weren’t included, we weren’t part and parcel of this.”
But perhaps the fiercest words signaling that the France-Australia trade relationship has suffered irreparable damage in the wake of the trio’s ‘AUUKUS’ deal have come from France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune on Friday. He said “trust” has been seriously damaged after Australia suddenly terminated the contract to buy French submarines:
“We’re having trade negotiations with Australia. I don’t see how we can trust our Australian partners,” Beaune said.
The European Commission and Australia earlier this year concluded an 11th round of negotiations, with the next round set for later this year.
Friday’s follow-up announcement informing countries of the recalled ambassadors cited “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners” and was ordered by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Fri, 09/17/2021 – 15:59