Unacceptable behavior: France recalls its envoys to US and Australia

  • The government of France pulls its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.
  • France calls its exclusion from new AUKUS alliance and loss of a major submarine contract a stab in the back.
  • French President canceled a gala event at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. scheduled for the 240th anniversary of a historic naval battle.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced today that France has recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia over the ‘unacceptable behavior’ of Washington, London and Canberra in coining a nuclear submarine deal that has led to cancelation of a major French conventional submarine contract with Australia.

According to Le Drian, the decision to recall the envoys was completely justified by the ‘exceptional gravity’ of the September 15 announcement made by Australia, the USA and the UK.

“At the request of the President of the Republic, I decided to immediately recall to Paris for consultations our two ambassadors in the United States and in Australia,” Le Drian said.

Abandoning the submarine project that Canberra and Paris had agreed-on in 2016 constitutes ‘unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect the very conception that we have of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,’ French foreign minister declared.

US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced the ‘AUKUS’ initiative in a three-way virtual event on Wednesday afternoon. The centerpiece of this new alliance of “maritime democracies” is the 18-month project to provide Canberra with nuclear-powered but conventionally armed submarines. This would make Australia only the seventh country in the world to operate such vessels – and the only one without a nuclear arsenal of its own.

The government of France reportedly found out about the deal from mass media reports, rather than from Washington or Canberra directly, although Australian officials insist they’ve made it “very clear” to their partner that the French-Australian deal may be cancelled.

Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly issued a furious statement in response to the unveiling of AUKUS, and the foreign minister later called it a ‘stab in the back.’

French President Emmanuel Macron canceled a gala event at the French embassy in Washington, scheduled for the 240th anniversary of the naval battle that helped win the US war of independence.

France was not only excluded of the new alliance, but lost the contract to supply conventionally powered submarines to Australia. The French government has a majority stake in Naval Group, which worked on the contract, valued at up to $66 billion.

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