Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the rare decision taken by French President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the “exceptional gravity” of the matter.
PARIS/CANBERRA/WASHINGTON: (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News-18, 2021) France plunged into an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with the United States (US) and Australia on Friday after it recalled its ambassadors from both countries over a trilateral security deal which sank a French-designed submarine deal with Canberra, Reuters reported on Saturday.
The rare decision taken by French President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the “exceptional gravity” of the matter, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
On Thursday, Australia said it would scrap a $40 billion submarine deal signed in 2016 for France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership. France called it a stab in the back.
“Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,” a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
The French foreign ministry statement made no mention of Britain, but the diplomatic source said France considered Britain had joined the deal in an opportunistic manner.
“We don’t need to hold consultations with our (British) ambassador to know what to make of it or to draw any conclusions,” the source added.
Le Drian said the deal was unacceptable.
The row marks the lowest point in relations between Australia and France since 1995, when Canberra protested France’s decision to resume nuclear testing in the South Pacific and recalled its ambassador for consultations.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday rejected French criticism that it had not been warned about the new deal, and said he had raised the possibility in talks with the French president that Australia might scrap the Naval Group deal.
“I made it very clear, we had a lengthy dinner there in Paris, about our very significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment we’re faced with,” he told 5aa Radio.
“I made it very clear that this was a matter that Australia would need to make a decision on in our national interest.”
France is about to take over the presidency of the European Union, which on Thursday released its strategy for the Indo-Pacific, pledging to seek a trade deal with Taiwan and to deploy more ships to keep sea routes open.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried on Thursday to calm the French outcry, calling France a vital partner in the region.