Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

France’s ambassador to Australia warns that it remains to be seen whether the two governments are friends and has accused the federal government of being “childish”.

Jean-Pierre Thebault was recalled to Paris last month after Australia canceled a £ 90bn deal. Dollars to build a fleet of submarines and instead chose to partner with the United States and Britain.

Thebault told ABC he was sent back to Canberra with clear instructions to reconsider the diplomatic relationship, which he described as at a crisis point.

“I have to revise everything, because when we talked about the importance of something, and then we discovered that these words were empty – what was so true? What is still real?” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged France’s disappointment over the termination of the contract and said he was looking forward to getting through a difficult period.

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But Thebault said it was “childish to say it was impossible to consult with France” before the announcement of the new security pact with the United States and Britain.

“If you do not want to take my word, OK. Take the words off [US] Chairman [Joe] Biden. Take the floor from Foreign Minister Blinken, “said Thebault.

“They have officially said that things should have been done differently. There should have been consultations. So if the United States is able to recognize that, why not others?”

French President Emmanuel Macron has not returned Morrison’s call, and Commerce Secretary Dan Tehan has had some personal meetings canceled during his visit to Paris this week.

Thebault claimed that the security ties between Australia and France were strong enough that his government had previously been brought into the fold.

“Are you aware of the depth and scope of secret things we are currently exchanging with Australia?” Said Thebault.

“Things as important as international terrorism, many military issues.”

He argued that France was regularly treated as a partner to Five Eyes intelligence groups in Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

Thebault believed that the concerns about trust between the two nations went beyond tearing up the submarine contract and Australia needed to prove that it would not act in such a way in the future.

“This is very serious,” he said.

“We want to build for the future, we have to look at everything.

“We need to be sure that what we are building is solid and will not be called into question again.”

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