France angry at submarine deal 'duplicity'

French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the French and US presidents did not discuss AUKUS.
French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the French and US presidents did not discuss AUKUS.

France considers that it is in a "crisis" with Australia and the United States after the cancellation of a multi-billion dollar submarine order, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.

Le Drian said on Friday he was recalling France's ambassadors from both countries over a trilateral security deal also involving the United Kingdom which sank the submarine contract with a French firm.

Le Drian also said President Emmanuel Macron had not spoken with US President Joe Biden about the submarine issue.

"The fact that, for the first time in the history of relations between the United States and France, we are recalling our ambassador for consultations is a grave political act that shows the intensity of the crisis today between our two countries and also with Australia," Le Drian told France 2 television.

"There has been duplicity, contempt and lies - you can't play that way in an alliance," he added.

Australia announced on Thursday it would scrap its 2016 deal with France's Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered ones with US and UK technology after striking a trilateral security pact.

Le Drian again drew a parallel between the US president's action and the unpredictable style of his predecessor Donald Trump, adding that Biden had acted "without the tweets but with a sort of solemn announcement that is rather unbearable".

The minister also repeated criticism of what France sees as opportunism from former European Union member the UK in joining forces with the US and Australia, calling London "the spare tyre" of the initiative.

Meanwhile, Europe Minister Clement Beaune told French television that the UK appeared to have become a "junior partner" to the US as part of the AUKUS military alliance.

"Our British friends explained to us they were leaving the EU to create Global Britain. We can see that this is a return into the American lap and a form of accepted vassalisation," Beaune said.

"The UK is clearly trying to find its feet, perhaps there was a lack of thought about the strategic future. Today they are hiding in the American fold. I hope that will not be their policy for the decades to come."

with PA

Australian Associated Press