France has decided to recall its ambassadors from the United States and Australia to protest Australia’s cancellation of a large-scaled submarine purchase deal made with France after it forged a military alliance with the U.S. and the UK.
“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,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced in a statement on Friday, Sept. 17.
“This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on Sept. 15 by Australia and the United States,” he said.
On Wednesday, the U.S., U.K., and Australia formed a trilateral security pact called AUKUS to counter the Chinese communist regime, which will involve assistance in developing nuclear-powered submarines in Australia. The deal effectively scrapped a previous $40 billion submarine deal made between France and Australia.
In his statement, Le Drian called the deal between the allied nations an “unacceptable behavior,” NPR reported.
“The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,” Le Drian said.
The recall of French ambassadors comes after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with French President Emmanuel Macron in June to discuss mounting worries over their $90 billion contract to build 12 attack-class submarines by 2030.
In response to France’s decision, a White House spokeswoman reaffirmed the two countries’ allegiances to one another despite the mounting submarine feud.
“We have been in close touch with our French partners on their decision to recall Ambassador Etienne to Paris,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said. “We understand their position and 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.”
According to CNBC, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday that he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken to their French counterparts about the new trilateral security pact ahead of its unveiling.