By ROD McGUIRK and ELAINE GANLEY
PARIS (AP) – France’s foreign minister on Saturday vowed to break France’s lucrative deal to build submarines for Australia in favor of a U.S. deal he called “duality, hatred and lies” and declared a crisis at hand. Western allies.
A day after France withdrew its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his proposed deal was a backroom deal that betrayed France.
In an interview with France 2 television, he said the withdrawal of his ambassadors “indicates the strength of today’s crisis” between the French government and Washington and Canberra. He said this was the first time France, the oldest ally of the United States, had sent its ambassador back to the United States.
President Joe Biden’s announcement of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines in an agreement with the leaders of Australia and Britain has angered France. The French signed a deal in 2016 for a dozen conventional diesel-electric submarines and work on them is already underway. The deal with the French-majority state-owned Naval Group was worth at least a billion dollars.
Diplomatic diplomacy went out the window as French authorities tried to express their anger.
Le Drian denied reports that he had consulted with France in advance of the announcement, saying “this is not true.”
The Allies “do not treat each other with such cruelty, such unpredictability, a big partner like France … so there really is a crisis,” Le Drian said.
“We have reason to question the strength of the alliance,” Le Dryan said.
Earlier, France’s ambassador to Australia also deviated from the diplomatic language when describing what was widely billed in France as a “treaty of the century.”
“This is a huge mistake, a very bad handling of the partnership,” said French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thibault before leaving for France.
The arms deal signed in 2016 between France and Australia was supposed to be “based on trust, mutual understanding and sincerity”. “I want to be able to run a time machine and live in a situation where we don’t fall into such incredible, inexperienced, inadequate, Australian situations.”
He said he had heard about the cancellation deal in the Australian media.
Le Dryen said in a written statement on Friday that the decision to withdraw French ambassadors at the request of President Emanuel Macron was justified by the exceptional importance of the Australian and US declarations.
What French officials called a complex, multidimensional deal was more than a submarine. It was the basis for France’s critical view of the Indo-Pacific region, where France has a presence and China is trying to increase its influence.
Naval Group said in a statement that the outcome of the deal cancellation would be analyzed “in the coming days” with Australia. It noted that teams from France and Australia have been working on the project for the past five years.
Australian employees working with the Naval Group and their families have set up home in the port of Normandy in Cherberg. A union official, David Robin, told BFMTV that employees were told they could have the option to keep going.
The office of Australian Foreign Minister Maris Payne had earlier issued a statement in response to the diplomat’s withdrawal, and Canberra expressed “regret” over the withdrawal of its ally’s representative.
“Australia understands France’s deep frustration with our decision, which was taken in the interests of our clear and communicative national security,” the statement said. It added that Australia values its relationship with France and looks forward to participating together in the future.
Payne and Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton are currently in the United States for annual talks with their U.S. counterparts and with their first Biden administration.
Following the unveiling of the US deal this week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had told Macron in June that “there is a very real problem with whether conventional submarine capability” would meet Australia’s strategic security needs in the Indo-Pacific.
Morrison did not specifically mention China’s massive military buildup, which has gained momentum in recent years.
Morrison was in Paris on his way home from a Group of Seven Nations conference in Britain, where he soon held talks with coalition partner Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Thibault said he was also in a meeting with Macron and Morrison.
Morrison noted that “regional conditions have changed”, but gave no indication that Australia was considering a change in its nuclear program, Thebalt said.
“Everything was supposed to be done in complete transparency between the two partners,” he added.
Mark Dreyfus, Australia’s senior opposition lawmaker, has called on the Australian government to improve relations with France.
“The impact on our relations with France is a concern, especially as a country of vital interest in our region,” Dreyfus said. “The French were blinded by this decision and much more should have been done to protect Mr Morrison’s relationship.”