Angered over announcement by United States of an agreement to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia that will scrap an existing $90 billion French contract, France on Friday (Sep 17) said that it has recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.
U.S Britain and Australia recently unveiled a new trilateral security pact, named AUKUS, under which U.S will supply Australia with nuclear submarines to be deployed in the Pacific region. The deal incurred the wrath of Paris as it scraps an existing French contract with Australia for conventional submarines.
In 2016, Australia had signed a contract to buy 12 Attack-class submarines from the French shipbuilder Naval Group worth nearly $ 90 billion.
The new trilateral security deal is widely viewed as a strategic moved towards curtailing China, which has recently mounted multiple manoeuvres in the Pacific region, especially in and around the South China Sea, where it has expansive territorial claims.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the decision was made by French President Emmanuel Macron. Drian had called the deal a “stab in the back”.
The French minister also said that his country was not going to let the Australians get away with ditching the contract, which can be expected to lead to some job losses as well.
"At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” the foreign minister said. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the decision to scrap the $90 billion submarine project with France in favour of a new alliance with the US and UK to build nuclear powered subs at home was due to national security.
'Australia understands France's deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,' she said.
'Australia values its relationship with France, which is an important partner and a vital contributor to stability, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. This will not change.' she added