Submarine deal row: Macron-Biden to hold call ‘in next few days’
As tensions simmer between France and the United States over a “secret” deal, which led to Australia scrapping a contract for submarines with a French company in favour of nuclear-powered submarines from the US, a French government spokesperson said on Sunday that president Emmanuel Macron will hold talks with his American counterpart Joe Biden “in the next few days,” news agency Reuters reported.
“We will seek clarification over the cancellation of a submarine order by Australia in favour of a trilateral security deal with the United States and Britain,” Gabriel Attal informed news channel BFM TV. Attal was referring to the recently announced partnership between the US, United Kingdom and Australia, with the latter’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, unveiling his government’s plan to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from Washington.
The development effectively means that Canberra has cancelled a 2016 deal with France's Naval Group to buy as many as 12 conventional submarines. The group is partly owned by the French government.
France had reacted angrily to Morrison's announcement, with foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calling the new grouping a “stab in the back.” The minister had also accused Australia of “betraying” a relationship of trust with France.
Also, in a first, France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia, as Le Drian denounced the new partnership as “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners.” French officials also called off events to celebrate Franco-American ties, which were scheduled to take place in Washington and Baltimore.
(With agency inputs)