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France cancels gala in D.C. over Australia submarine deal


WASHINGTON – French officials in Washington canceled a Friday evening gala at their sprawling compound over frustration with the new security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

CNBC was informed that the French officials have confirmed that the Gala, which was to celebrate the Battle of the Capes’ 240th Anniversary, won’t be held at the Washington embassy.

The official stated that “other parts of the celebration” are continuing, including the wreath-laying ceremony in Annapolis (Maryland). Other events that involved a French destroyer and submarine in Baltimore’s harbor were not cancelled.

The New York Times was the first to report the cancellation.

The French Embassy, Washington DC. May 8, 2020.

Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

The development comes after France expressed outrage over a newly minted trilateral partnership that, in part, ends a long-standing submarine contract between Australia and France and replaces it with a deal between the U.S. and U.K.

Wednesday’s agreement by the U.S., U.K. to support Canberra’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines will enable Australia to counter Chinese-powered vessels.

It was a punch in the face. It was a breach of trust. This trust has been betrayed,” France minister of foreign affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian told radio station Franceinfo Thursday morning.

U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken stated to reporters on Thursday that he and Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary, had discussed the new security accord with their French counterparts prior to its unveiling.

Joint press conference held at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jean-Yves Le Drian on June 25, 2021.

AFP / Getty Images| AFP | Getty Images

“I’ll leave it to our Australian partners to describe why they sought this new technology. Blinken stated that France and the United States have a longstanding relationship. “We cooperate closely in many areas, not only around the Indo-Pacific, but all over the globe,” he said.

Blinken added, “We’re going on to do so. We place fundamental value upon that relationship, that partnership and will continue in the days ahead.”