Saturday October 16, 2021

France recalls envoys over submarine row

September 18, 2021
France recalls envoys over submarine row

PARIS: France on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for consultations in a ferocious row over the scrapping of a submarine contract, an unprecedented step that revealed the extent of French anger against its allies.

President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recalling of the envoys after Canberra ditched a deal to buy French submarines in favour of US vessels, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

Le Drian said in a statement that the decision was made to “immediately” recall the two French ambassadors due to “the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on September 15 by Australia and the United States.”

The abandonment of the ocean-class submarine project that Australia and France had been working on since 2016 constituted “unacceptable behaviour among allies and partners,” the minister said. “Their consequences affect the very concept we have of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”

US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.The pact is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China. The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth Aus$50 billion (31 billion euros, $36.5 billion) when signed in 2016.

The French ambassador recalls from the United States and Australia, key allies of France, are unprecedented. Meanwhile, the White House expressed “regret” over the recall of France´s ambassador, but said that the United States would work to resolve the diplomatic row. “We regret that they have taken this step, we will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.