© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Jean-Yves Le Drian, French foreign minister, attends the Bauhaus University in Weimar (Germany) September 10, 2021. Jens Schlueter/Pool via REUTERS
By John Irish and Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) – France accused U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday of stabbing it in the back and acting like his predecessor Donald Trump after Paris was pushed aside from a lucrative defence deal that it had signed with Australia for submarines.
Australia, the United States and Britain announced that they will establish an Indo-Pacific security partnership to help Australia purchase U.S.-powered submarines. This would also allow Australia to scrap its $40 billion submarine contract.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister of France told franceinfo radio that this “brutal, unintended and unpredictable” decision reminded him of Trump’s past actions. “I’m angry and bitter. These things can’t be done among allies.
Australia chose French shipbuilder Naval Group in 2016 to build its new $40 billion submarine fleet. This was to replace Collins’s more than 20-decade-old submarines.
Two weeks earlier, Australia’s defence and foreign ministers confirmed the agreement to France. In June, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the decades of collaboration and he hosted Scott Morrison, an Australian prime minister.
“It’s an insult to the back. Le Drian stated that we had established a trust relationship with Australia, and this trust was broken.
Trump’s presidency caused a rift between Macron and Trump. Diplomats have expressed concern that Biden has been less open with European partners in recent months.
Washington’s actions towards Australia will likely further damage Transatlantic relations. On Thursday, the European Union would release their Indo-Pacific strategy. Paris will be taking over as EU president.
Bruno Tertrais, the Deputy Director of Paris-based thinktank the Foundation of Strategic Research stated on Twitter (NYSE 🙂 that this was “a clap of Thunder and for many Paris a Trafalgar Moment”. Tertrais refers to France’s 1805 naval defeat which was quickly followed by British naval dominance.
This would make it difficult for transatlantic cooperation to be effective in the area, said Tertrais. Beijing will benefit.”
Biden stated Wednesday that France remains a “key partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Morrison stated that Australia was looking forward to working “closely, positively”, with France. He also said: “France has been a key friend to Australia and to the Indo-Pacific.”
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