French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault says leakage of private messages is a “new low”

The French ambassador to Australia has described the leak of French President Emmanuel Macron’s text messages to the media as a “new low” in the ongoing submarine agreement.

Jean-Pierre Thebault on Wednesday used an address to the National Press Club to make a withering attack on Canberra’s surprise decision to scrap a $ 90 billion ($ 66 billion) contract with France to build a fleet of 12 diesel-electric submarines.

He said France had concluded that Australia’s “fraud was intentional” and that although his government did not resent Australia or the Australian people, it had a complaint about “certain aspects of the” Canberra bubble “and its” secret city practices “. “.”.

French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault said France concluded that Australia "deception was intentional".
France’s ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault said France concluded that Australia’s “fraud was deliberate”. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Diplomatic tensions between Australia and France were further intensified after French President Emmanuel Macron accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying to him about the submarine deal.

The extraordinarily bitter bilateral saliva is amplified by the fact that both national leaders are seeking re-election early next year.

Doubts are growing about how the relationship can be effectively reset if both leaders remain accountable

France is undermining international confidence in Australia as the government seeks to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU.

In September, Australia dumped the $ 90 billion deal to buy diesel submarines from France’s Naval Group in favor of nuclear-powered vessels made available through the new AUKUS alliance with the United States and Britain.

Sir. Thebault said a joint communiqué highlighting the importance of a submarine agreement between the two countries should not have been signed by Secretary of State Marise Payne and Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton and their French counterpart just 17. days before the AUKUS agreement was published.

He condemned the Australian government for not ruling out negative media reports about the French attack class submarine project.

He insisted that it was not delayed or over-budgeted, as some reports suggested.

“Because there was far more at stake than delivering submarines, because it was a joint agreement on sovereignty, sealed with the transmission of highly classified data, the way it was handled was a stab in the back,” Thebault said.

Sir. Thebault said he also raised issues with the AUKUS deal.

“The Australian Government is abandoning a solid partnership with well-established parameters for an as yet unspecified project, without even a solid transition,” he said.

“A mere ‘project of a project’ Not even the length of the study is certain.”

In announcing the AUKUS alliance, Mr Morrison said the three countries would spend the next 18 months exploring how to supply “at least” eight nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

That’s what US President Joe Biden has admitted the handling of the landmark agreement that would allow Australia to buy nuclear-powered submarines using American and British technology was “clumsy”.

But Mr Morrison has insisted that dumping was crucial to Australia’s national security and had to upset the French, no matter how it was handled.

Thebault said the ball was in the Australian government’s court to rectify the broken relationship with France.

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