Paris / Washington / Canberra – France has been struck by Australia’s submarine deal with the United States. On Friday, France decided to recall its ambassadors from the United States and Australia over the issue of the deal. President Emmanuel Macron had to make a critical decision due to the gravity of the decision taken by the US and Australia, the French foreign minister said. The United States and Australia have expressed regret over the decision, saying France is a crucial partner.
‘French ambassadors to the US and Australia are being recalled immediately following instructions from the French President. The announcement made by Australia and the United States on September 15 is crucial. So accordingly, this exceptional decision has been taken. The cancellation of the submarine agreement between Australia and France and the partnership with the United States for nuclear submarines both constitute unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners. This could have a direct impact on the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to Europe and France’s alliances and partnerships in this region,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said while announcing the decision.
The US and Australia have reacted to France’s decision. ‘France is an important partner of the United States and one of its old allies. Our relations with France are invaluable. High-level talks will be held with France on the issue of the agreement,’ said Ned Price, spokesman for the United States Department of State. Moreover, the US defense secretary and his French counterpart have held preliminary talks on the issue.
Australia has expressed regret over France’s decision to recall its ambassador. ‘Our relations with France are important and we will continue to cooperate with France on various issues,’ an Australian spokesman said. The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, has said that France was notified that the agreement on submarines could be cancelled. Morrison claimed that he had warned the French President in a meeting in June that Australia might take a different decision considering national security and interests.
Under an agreement reached between France and Australia, France was to supply Australia with 12 conventional Attack submarines. The deal was worth about 50 billion Australian dollars. It was also revealed that 2 billion dollars had already been invested according to the deal.