Paris heavily recalled the French ambassador in Washington last week in the wake of a new defense pact under which the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia will work together. As a result, an Australian order for $30 billion in French submarines was cancelled.
US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, met on Wednesday for the first time since the crisis. During the call, Biden acknowledged that the United States had not been transparent enough in the run-up to the deal: France was not notified of the deal until an hour before the new alliance was announced. The two presidents agreed by phone to meet in Europe at the end of October. The White House and the Elysee did not say when or where they would meet.
It is not yet known whether the French ambassador to Australia will return to his post. Macron has also summoned him for consultations on the situation. A phone call from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Macron has yet to be answered. Morrison, who is currently in the United States, told reporters in Washington. “We will be patient,” Morrison was quoted by Australian media as saying.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson used less subtle words when addressing Macron on Wednesday: “Donnez-moi un break,” he told reporters. Morrison said he “does not speak French” but enjoyed the British prime minister’s statement.
The so-called Aukus security agreement implies that the three member states will share information and technology with each other. But the key word is: subs. The US is ready to share its nuclear submarine technology with Australia – something it has previously only done with the UK.
This gives Australia eight highly advanced submarines, and ends an earlier deal with the French (from whom Australia buys less advanced submarines). France spoke of a dagger in the back. “This unilateral, sudden and unexpected decision is very reminiscent of Trump’s style,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. But no tweets.
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