Thu. May 26th, 2022

France has restored “a degree of confidence” with allied United States but not with Australia following a debacle over Canberra’s cancellation of a multi-billion dollar submarine deal with Paris, says a French regional envoy.

Christophe Penot, France’s ambassador to the Indo – Pacific, said the break with Canberra continued because the Australian government was still “in denial” of the way the decision was communicated.

France accused its allies of stabbing it in the back when Australia chose to build nuclear-powered submarines using American and British technology instead of a multi-billion-dollar French submarine program.

Hard way to restore trust

The new AUKUS security alliance is designed to give Australia access to nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, but caused a major diplomatic rift after France said it had not been informed in advance.

A close-up of Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron says Scott Morrison lied to him about Australia’s intentions on submarines.(Reuters: Guillaume Horcajuelo)

Paris briefly recalled its ambassadors from Australia and the United States in protest.

French President Emmanuel Macron later said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had deceived him about Canberra’s intentions, an accusation rejected by the federal government.

A barrage of diplomatic contact with Washington resulted in a recognition by US President Joe Biden that the agreement’s announcement “was not handled in a graceful manner”.

Sir. Biden met with Mr Macron in October ahead of the summit for the 20.

“We believe we have restored a degree of trust, mutual trust in our American allies,” Mr Penot said in Bangkok.

But he said no such trust had been regained with Australia.

“So it’s hard to make progress and restore confidence if they are in denial.”

Morrison has argued that he had previously explained to Mr Macron that conventional submarines would no longer meet Australia’s needs prior to the AUKUS agreement.

Reuters

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