France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in response to being excluded from a deal to build nuclear-powered submarines for Canberra’s navy as China continues to exert undue influence over the region and expand its own naval fleet.
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday.
“This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States,” Le Drian added.
The foreign minister cited the cancellation of the submarine deal specifically as the reason for the recall.
“The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe,” Le Drian said.
In addition, France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, was recalled as well. On Friday, he said that his country was “deliberately kept in the black” about being cut out of the submarine deal.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly also issued a joint statement with Le Drian:
The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or in terms of respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.about:blank
President Joe Biden announced the trilateral deal between the U.S., the UK, and Australia to build the nuclear-powered subs, Australia’s first, as the continent races to replace its aging conventionally-powered sub fleet while China’s navy dramatically expands.
Previously, Australia and France had agreed to a $90 billion program to build six French-designed nuke subs, but Canberra scrapped it in favor of vessels that would be more interoperable with U.S. and British naval vessels.
“It’s really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed,” Le Drian said separately on Friday.
Breitbart News adds:
The Biden administration admitted on Thursday that it gave France only hours of notice before publicly announcing the sub deal with Australia, prompting the furious French embassy to cancel a Washington gala commemorating the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, a pivotal Revolutionary War engagement in which France defeated the British navy on behalf of the rebelling American colonies.about:blank
The Biden administration appeared to significantly downplay France’s anger.
“This is not the only global engagement or global cooperative partnership the United States has in the world,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters after the new deal became public.
“We cooperate incredibly closely with France on many shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific but also beyond around the world. We’re going to continue to do so. We place fundamental value on that relationship, on that partnership,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken added on Thursday.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Friday that the country has never recalled its ambassador to the U.S. before. A French diplomat told The Associated Press that there is now a “crisis” in relations with the United States and it raises “a strategic question concerning the very nature of the relationship between Europe and the United States about the Indo-Pacific strategy.”