Australia, France In Verbal War Over Submarines


By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy

(Worthy News) – A of words has broken out between and Australia over a scrapped submarine deal that cost the French government tens of billions of dollars.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he knew Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him about his intentions to renege on the deal, prompting an angry reaction.

A furious Morrison said his nation would not accept “sledging” and “slurs.”

But he’s been accused of cynically twisting Macron’s words as rebuking Australians rather than him personally. “I’ve got broad shoulders, I can deal with that [the accusations],” Morrison told reporters at the climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“But those slurs – I’m not going to cop sledging of Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians,” he said.

However, Macron had told Australian reporters he had “a lot of respect” for Australia. “I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people,” he stressed on the sidelines of the summit of leaders of the top 20 economies in Italy.

RESPECTING AUSTRALIA

“I just say when we have respect, you have to be true, and you have to behave in line, and consistently, with this value,” Macron added, referring to his clash with the Australian prime minister.

Their tensions emerged after, in September, Australia canceled the $37 billion deal with France to build 12 diesel-powered submarines.

Instead, it inked a defense pact with the and known as “Aukus.” It will allow Australia to gain access to U.S. submarine – a move is seen as a strategic counter to which has shown increased assertiveness.

Australia is only the second country after Britain in 1958 to access U.S. nuclear technology to build eight nuclear-powered submarines.

But it scuppered a deal for France to build a dozen conventional submarines, which Australia signed in 2016. “What we did was clumsy,” U.S. President said over the weekend. “I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God.”

It wasn’t clear what information that impression was based on. Macron, whose government briefly recalled the French ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia over the dispute, said it was essential to “look to the future.” He added: “Trust is like love. Declarations are good, but the proof is better.”

Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, asked the French leader to calm down. “We didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower. It was a contract.”

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