In the statement announcing that the ambassadors would temporarily return to Paris – a harsh diplomatic measure that is typically used against adversaries – Mr. Le Drian made it clear that his country viewed the actions of the two nations as a serious breach of trust.
He said that the US-Australian partnership, which will result in the abandonment of a previous submarine agreement between Australia and France, constitutes “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect the very conception that we we have our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.
The language echoed bitter comments from Mr Le Drian and other French officials on Thursday, suggesting that the anger felt at the highest levels of Mr Macron’s government is more than a fleeting tantrum.
US officials admitted to first briefing the French on Wednesday morning, hours before Mr. Biden’s announcement of the deal. They also said senior US officials tried unsuccessfully to schedule meetings with their French counterparts before news of the deal leaked to the Australian and US press.
Mr Biden’s senior national security aides said they don’t believe French anger over the deal will significantly harm long-term relations between the two allies, who continue to cooperate on a number of problems in the world.