PARIS — France’s foreign Minister decried what he called “duplicity and disdain around the sudden breakage of France’s lucrative contract for submarines for Australia and in favor of a U. He declared that a crisis was at the Western allies crisis
France has recalled its ambassadors in the United States and Australia The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticized what he called a backroom deal that sabotaged France. The recall of its ambassadors “signifies today’s crisis” between Washington and Canberra, he stated in an interview with France 2 television. He said it was the first time ever that France, the United States’ oldest ally, has recalled its ambassador to the U.S.
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The announcement by President Joe Biden of the deal, alongside the leaders of Australia and Britain, for at least eight nuclear-powered submarines has set France in a fury.
The French had signed a contract in 2016 for a dozen conventional diesel-electric submarines and the work to make them was already underway. The deal with French majority state-owned Naval Group was worth at least $66 billion. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that he didn’t regret putting Australia’s national interests first.
Morrison said he understood France’s disappointment but reiterated that Australia must always take decisions in its best interest. This was an issue that I raised with France a few months back and we continued to discuss those issues,” Morrison said at a briefing.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton are currently in the United States for annual talks with their U.S. counterparts and their first with Biden’s administration.
Dutton stated that Australia had been open, honest and upfront with France regarding its concerns about the deal for some time.
“Suggestions that the concerns hadn’t been flagged by the Australian government, just defy, frankly, what’s on the public record and certainly what they’ve said publicly over a long period of time,” Dutton told Sky News.
But diplomatic politeties are gone as French authorities try to vent their fury.
Le Drian denied reports that there had been advance consultations with France ahead of the announcement, saying “this isn’t true.”
Allies “don’t treat each other with such brutality, such unpredictability, a major partner like France,” Le Drian said. “So there really is a crisis.”
“There are reasons for us to question the strength of our alliance,” Le Drian said.
The complex, multi-layered contract that French officials called “a complex and multi-layered contract” was more than just submarines. It was the foundation for France’s vision of the crucial Indo-Pacific region where France has a presence, and China wants to increase its influence. The Naval Group stated in a statement, that Australia and France would discuss the consequences of cancelling the contract. It also noted that the project has been in progress for five years.
Australian employees working with Naval Group and their families have set up home in the Normandy port of Cherbourg. David Robin, a union official, stated that employees were told there was an option to stay on.