World

France recalls ambassadors to US, Australia over submarine row

September 18, 2021
File photo of French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
File photo of French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.

PARIS — France has decided to recall its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for consultations after Canberra scrapped a deal to acquire French-designed submarines and decided instead to invest in US nuclear-powered submarines.

"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 Australia. This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on Sept. 15 by Australia and the United States," said French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement on Friday.

It is the first time in the history of France that such a decision was taken vis-a-vis these two countries, according to French media.

Earlier in the day, Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune said France cannot trust Australia in its ongoing trade talks with the European Union (EU) after the new security partnership called "AUKUS" (Australia-UK-US) was unveiled by the three countries on Wednesday.

A first initiative under the trilateral partnership will be the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia by the U.S. and the UK, while back in 2016 Australia signed a contract with France for the purchase of 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.

Le Drian on Thursday called the trilateral move a "stab in the back." "We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed," he said.

"The American behavior worries me; this unilateral and brutal decision is very similar to what Donald Trump was doing," he added.

Amid international worries about the proliferation of nuclear material and technology via the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said in a press release that it will "engage with them (Australia, the U.S., and the UK) on this matter in line with its statutory mandate, and in accordance with their respective safeguards agreements with the Agency." — Agencies


September 18, 2021
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