France RECALLS ambassadors from US and Australia, citing ‘exceptional gravity’ of AUKUS submarine deal
17 Sep, 2021 19:51 / Updated 6 hours ago
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called the new AUKUS military treaty “a stab in the back.” © Jens Schlueter/POOL-AFP/dpa; AP
Paris has recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations, citing the “unacceptable behavior” of the US, UK and Australia in striking a nuclear submarine deal that scuttled a French shipbuilding contract.
“At the request of the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron], I decided to immediately recall to Paris for consultations our two ambassadors in the United States and in Australia,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.
Le Drian said the decision was justified by the “exceptional gravity” of the September 15 announcement made by Australia, the US and the UK.
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Abandoning the submarine project that Canberra and Paris had agreed-on in 2016 constitutes “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect the very conception that we have of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,” said the French foreign minister.
US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced the ‘AUKUS’ initiative in a three-way virtual event on Wednesday afternoon. The centerpiece of this new alliance of “maritime democracies” is the 18-month project to provide Canberra with nuclear-powered but conventionally armed submarines. This would make Australia only the seventh country in the world to operate such vessels – and the only one without a nuclear arsenal of its own.