In an escalating controversy, France recalls its ambassadors to Australia and the United States.
In a fierce debate over the cancellation of a submarine deal, France summoned its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for discussions on Friday, an unusual move that exposed the level of French resentment toward its allies.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said President Emmanuel Macron ordered the envoys’ recall after Canberra rejected an agreement to acquire French submarines in favor of US vessels.
The decision to recall the two French ambassadors was made “quickly,” according to Le Drian, because of “the extreme seriousness of the pronouncements made on September 15 by Australia and the United States.”
The minister described the cancellation of the ocean-class submarine project, which Australia and France had been collaborating on since 2016, as “unacceptable behavior among allies and partners.”
“Their repercussions have an impact on the way we think about our alliances, relationships, and the Indo-importance Pacific’s for Europe,” he added.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden announced a new defence alliance between Australia and the United States, extending US nuclear submarine technology, as well as cyber defense, applied artificial intelligence, and undersea capabilities, to Australia.
The treaty is widely viewed as a response to China’s ascent.
France was enraged by the move, which resulted in the loss of a deal to sell conventional submarines to Australia valued at Aus$50 billion (31 billion euros, $36.5 billion) when it was signed in 2016.
The recall of the French envoy was met with “regret” by a White House official, who added, “we will continue to be involved in the coming days to address our differences, as we have done at other points in our historic alliance.”
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that phone conversations between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his French counterpart Florence Parly earlier this week indicated “that there is still more work to be done in terms of our defense cooperation with France.”
The recalls of the French ambassador from the United States and Australia, two of France’s most important friends, are unprecedented. Withdrawing envoys is a diplomatic last resort used when relations between feuding countries are strained, but it is uncommon amongst allies.
Philippe Etienne, France’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted, “I am being returned to Paris for discussions.” “This comes after a series of declarations that have had a direct impact on our perceptions of our alliances, partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.”
Paris considers itself a prominent force in the Indo-Pacific because of its overseas territories, such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia, which provide it with strategic and military advantages. Brief News from Washington Newsday.