Home World French foreign minister calls US-Australia submarine deal a 'stab in the back'

French foreign minister calls US-Australia submarine deal a 'stab in the back'

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France on Thursday fervently condemned the abrupt end to a submarine contract previously agreed to by Australia, calling the Aussie government’s new U.S.-U.K. deal a “stab in the back.”

“We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister of foreign affairs, told French news outlet Francetvinfo.

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Late on Wednesday, the $40 billion submarine contract signed in 2016 with a French company was passed over for the newly established partnership dubbed “AUKUS.”

While the deal with France would have provided Australia with conventional submarines, the new alliance will instead grant the Indo-Pacific nation with highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology.

“This will allow the Department of Defense to meet its mission to protect Australia and its national interests, and that of our regional friends, into the future,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter.

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“We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide in close cooperation with the U.K. and the U.S. But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,” he added.

The trilateral partnership has been viewed as a direct challenge to China’s activity in the region, though France argued its vested interest in the Indo-Pacific region shows a lack of “coherence” by its western allies. 

“As the only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel, France is a reliable partner that will continue to fulfill its commitments, as it has always done,” Le Drain said in a statement. 

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The French minister further accused Biden of making an “unpredictable decision” and compared his reliability to that of Donald Trump’s.

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” Le Drian said Thursday. “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.”

Rich Edson contributed to this report. 

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