France rebukes Australia, US for lying, contempt over submarine deal

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 20, 2021
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Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and President of Security Council for the month of July, chairs the Security Council ministerial-level meeting in New York, the United States, July 15, 2021. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

France on Saturday rebuked Australia and the United States for "a major breach of trust and contempt" in the submarine row, following the decision to recall its ambassadors from the two countries.

Speaking on the France 2 television on Saturday evening, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said the withdrawal of the ambassadors, for the first time in France's history vis-a-vis the two countries, was a "very symbolic" act reflecting "a grave crisis between us."

"There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt," he said, adding the consequences could impact strategic relations within NATO.

"NATO initiated a discussion of its concept," said Le Drian. "The next NATO summit in Madrid will work on a new strategic concept. Obviously what has just happened will be of relevance to this definition."

France would make a priority developing an EU security strategy when it takes on the bloc's presidency at the start of 2022, he added.

Under the new security partnership unveiled on Wednesday between Australia, Britain and the United States, known as AUKUS, Australia will build nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology.

On Thursday, Australia announced it would scrap the deal with France signed in 2016 to purchase 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. In response, Le Drian called the trilateral move a "stab in the back."

On Friday, France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia, and said the "exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional seriousness" of the AUKUS announcements. 

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