Europe, Asia - Pacific

French envoy says country revising its ties with Australia

Paris ambassador, recalled last month after Australia discarded its multi-billion-dollar submarine deal with France, set to return to Canberra

French envoy says country revising its ties with Australia


France's ambassador to Australia has criticized Canberra for last month's move to discard its Future Submarine Program with its country and termed it a "childish" act, local media said on Friday.

French envoy Jean-Pierre Thebault is set to return to Canberra after he was recalled for consultation last month after Australia, the US, and UK announced a new Indo-Pacific security alliance that excludes Paris.

"I have to revise everything because when we were talking about the importance of something and then we discover those words were empty, then what was true? What is still real?" Thebault told ABC News.

He added that he is going back with clear instructions from his government to re-evaluate its ties with Canberra, but did not share more details about his country's future strategy.

In mid-September, the US, the UK, and Australia made an abrupt announcement of the AUKUS launch under which Australia will get technology from Washington and London to build nuclear-powered submarines.

It also stripped France of a $90-billion defense deal with Australia, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Paris, Canberra, and Washington.

According to ABC News, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had tried to speak with President Emmanuel Macron after the diplomatic tension emerged, but Macron did not return Morrison's calls.

The regional countries also have expressed concern over the transfer of nuclear technology and a potential arms race, but Canberra has stressed that it has no desire ​​​​to acquire nuclear weapons or civil nuclear capability.

The new defense pact is also seen as another grouping to counter China's expanding economic and military influence in the wider Asia-Pacific region, with the South China Sea in focus.

Besides AUKUS, the US is leading Quad – a loose security alliance with Australia, Japan, and India.

China and North Korea have opposed the AUKUS calling it "a peace disruptor," while Indonesia fears it may trigger an arms race in the region.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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