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Need substance to any future France-Australia talks, says French presidential official By Reuters


© Reuters. The closing address of the French President Emmanuel Macron at the National Convention on Mental Health and Psychiatry at Ministry of Solidarity and Health, Paris, France, September 28th, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) – France is preparing itself for a substantial conversation with Australia when the time comes after Canberra ditched a defence accord with Paris for a partnership with Britain and the United States, a French presidential official said on Tuesday.

France accused its allies for sabotaging it when Australia chose nuclear-powered submarines that would be powered by U.S. or British technology, instead of the multi-billion-dollar French sub-programme.

France is trying to repair relations with Washington but has also frozen all contact with Canberra.

Paris considered its Indo-Pacific partnership, dating back to 2016, as the foundation of its Indo-Pacific strategy. French officials claim they are particularly hurt by Canberra’s refusal to give them any indications, despite having begun plans to change deals with Australia 18 months ago.

In a briefing, a French presidential officer said that the conversation between President Emmanuel Macron (and Prime Minister Scott Morrison), must be planned in a serious manner.

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It’s not about whether or not there will be conversation. But in this context, we require a substantive conversation. “We are working on it.”

France recalls its Ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in the immediate aftermath. The French envoy will be returning to Washington on Wednesday.

Although no specific date has been given for their return, the French official stated that he will at one point deliver a message to set the stage for future relations between the two nations.

Australia said that it regrets the recall and expressed its gratitude to France for continuing engagement with Paris on Indo-Pacific issues.

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