- French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly cancels a meeting with her UK counterpart following a scrapped $90 billion Australia-France submarine deal
- Australia’s AUKUS deal sparked a diplomatic crisis with France, resulting in Paris recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra
- French and EU officials claim they were kept in the dark about the AUKUS deal, which resulted in the scrapped Australia-France submarine contract
- Canberra defends its decision to pull out of the French deal, claiming it raised concerns around the 2016 deal with Paris months ago
- French President Emmanuel Macron says he will speak with US President Joe Biden over the telephone in the coming days to discuss the crisis
French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has cancelled a meeting with her UK counterpart in the aftermath of a scrapped $90 billion Australia-France submarine deal.
The move comes amid backlash from France over the recently-signed AUKUS deal between Australia, the US, and the UK.
According to a report from Reuters, Minister Parly personally made the decision to drop the bilateral meeting with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
It’s the latest move in a diplomatic crisis spawned from the AUKUS deal, which allegedly came as a shock to France’s foreign ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would speak with US President Joe Biden over the telephone in the coming days to discuss the crisis.
The scrapped France-Australia deal
Australia first signed the $90 billion order for 12 French-designed submarines back in 2016.
Design work on the Attack class feet was underway in the French industrial city of Cherbourg up until Australia reversed on its position and signed the AUKUS deal instead.
France responded furiously in the days after the scrapped deal, with Paris recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. French officials claim they were not consulted by their allies or even notified of the new submarine deal until it was made public.
Meanwhile, Canberra defended its decision to pull out of the French deal, claiming it had raised concerns around the 2016 deal with Paris months ago.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on the weekend he understood France’s frustration but reiterated that the AUKUS move was in Australia’s best interests.
“I don’t regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first,” the Prime Minister said.
He admitted that though concerns had been raised around the Australia-France deal for months, he only tried to call the French President to inform him Canberra was scrapping the contract hours before it was announced publicly.
It appears that France was kept entirely in the dark about the new US-UK-Australia deal during its conception and negotiation.
The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said a partnership of this nature could not have been established overnight, and France and the EU had no idea it was coming.
Cherbourg mayor Benoit Arrive scheduled an urgent meeting with Australia’s Ambassador to France, Gillian Bird, last week, during which he described Canberra’s call to scrap its French deal as a “real slap in the face” for French foreign policy.
Rencontre en urgence avec Mme L’Ambassadrice d’Australie @AusAmbFR.— Arrivé Benoît (@ArriveBenoit) September 16, 2021
👉 Au-delà du contrat industriel, une amitié et des relations étroites se sont nouées entre @VilleCherbourg et les Australiens et je souhaite qu’elle perdure. #NavalGroup pic.twitter.com/H6ddhM8Asm
Nevertheless, he said a “friendship” between Australia and Cherbourg had been formed beyond the industrial contract and that he hoped it would continue.
China’s foreign ministry joined France in slamming the AUKUS deal, claiming Australia, the US and the UK were “damaging regional peace and stability”.