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France recalls ambassadors to Australia and US in unprecedented move

President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recalling of the envoys.

Image: Jens Schlueter via PA

FRANCE HAS RECALLED its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for consultations in a row over the scrapping of a submarine contract, an unprecedented step that revealed the extent of French anger against its allies.

President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recalling of the envoys after Canberra ditched a deal to buy French submarines in favour of US vessels, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

Le Drian said in a statement that the decision was made to “immediately” recall the two French ambassadors due to “the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on September 15 by Australia and the United States”.

The abandonment of the ocean-class submarine project that Australia and France had been working on since 2016 constituted “unacceptable behaviour among allies and partners,” the minister said.

“Their consequences affect the very concept we have of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”

US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.

The pact is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.

The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth Aus$50 billion (31 billion euros, $36.5 billion) when signed in 2016.

The French ambassador recalls from the United States and Australia, key allies of France, are unprecedented.

France has made no effort to disguise its fury and yesterday accused Australia of back-stabbing and Washington of Donald Trump-era behaviour over the submarines deal.

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“It’s really a stab in the back,” Le Drian said yesterday. “We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed”.

France has also called off a gala at its ambassador’s house in Washington scheduled for today.

The event was supposed to celebrate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle in the American Revolution, in which France played a key role.

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AFP

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