French Armed Forces Minister canceled meeting with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace following announcement of Britain’s new nuclear submarine deal with the United States and Australia.
Florence Parly made the decision to drop the bilateral meeting with Mr Wallace after the UK, US and Australia agreed to cooperate in the development of the first nuclear-powered fleet for the Australian Navy, have indicated sources.
The AUKUS deal will also see the three countries share other military technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber defense, quantum computing and long-range strike capabilities.
But the deal saw Canberra tear up a deal worth around £ 30bn with Paris in 2016 for France to supply 12 diesel-electric submarines.
The cancellation of the sub’s contract sparked a diplomatic storm, with President Emmanuel Macron recalling his ambassadors in the United States and Australia about the deal – dubbed by French media an “Indo-Pacific Trafalgar.”
And sources have now confirmed that the meeting between Ms Parly and Mr Wallace has been called off.
French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly has decided to drop the bilateral meeting with Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace
This week, Ben Wallace insisted that Britain did not “fish” for the pact to supply Australia with nuclear submarines with the United States.
France says it has not been consulted by its allies, while Australia says it has expressed to Paris for months its concerns about the contract.
The new pact – called AUKUS – will see America and Britain cooperate to build Australia’s first ever nuclear submarine fleet, comprising at least eight ships.
Mr Johnson, Joe Biden and Scott Morrison were careful not to mention Beijing when announcing the new deal, but it is understood that the purpose of the alliance is to counter growing aggression from China – in particular in the South China Sea.
China wasted no time responding to the deal, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denouncing the “exclusion bloc” which he says “seriously undermines peace and stability regions and intensifies the arms race ”.
Paris was quick to react, with Foreign Minister Yves Le-Drian complaining that it was a “stab in the back” after a $ 90 billion deal for the France supplies Australia with 12 conventionally powered submarines that have been torn apart.
Mr. Le Drian told France-Info radio station: “It was really a stab in the back.
“We have built a relationship of trust with Australia, and that trust has been betrayed. ”
Meanwhile, Mr Borrell, former President of the European Parliament, said: “This alliance, we have just learned about it and we have not even been consulted.
“As a high representative for security, I was not aware and I guess that an agreement of this nature was not reached overnight. I think this would have been working for quite a while.
He added: “We regret that we were not informed – that we did not participate in these talks. We weren’t included, we weren’t part of it.
But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace insisted Britain had not “sinned” for the pact to supply Australia with nuclear submarines with the United States.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I understand France’s disappointment.
“They had a contract with the Australians for diesel-electric from 2016 and the Australians made the decision to want to change.
“We didn’t go fishing for this, but as a close ally when the Australians approached us we would of course consider it.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Australians of treason because the alliance meant they had canceled a multibillion dollar deal for France to provide submarines
Scott Morrison met Boris Johnson and Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall last June, where the trio drafted a new military alliance that will give Australia its first nuclear-powered submarines.
Britain and America must help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as AUKUS. Pictured: A British Astute-class nuclear submarine which is likely to reflect Australian design
“I understand France’s frustration on this subject. “
And Boris Johnson told MPs the UK’s military relationship with France is “rock solid” and insisted that “we are on the side of the French” despite the row.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the new security partnership between London, Washington and Canberra should allow UK manufacturers to create much needed jobs in poorer seaside towns such as Barrow.
Once considered the “Chicago of England,” Barrow grew into a Victorian powerhouse as it evolved in the 19th century from a hamlet to being the world’s largest producer of iron and steel.
Almost 9,000 people are employed in the huge shipyard now owned by BAE Systems, where the four British Vanguard-class submarines – which carry the country’s nuclear deterrent – were built, and where the new submarine Dreadnought class to replace Vanguard is under construction.
Mr Johnson suggested that Barrow and Derby, where Rolls Royce has an engineering center, could benefit from the safety deal and generate work for “decades and decades” – although the final decision is not not expected for years.
A sample of British Astute-class nuclear attack submarines, which is likely to reflect the new ships
The Prime Minister met his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, and US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June.
Downing Street confirmed that the three leaders discussed the submarines during the meeting.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson added: “I wouldn’t say there was a single meeting that did it, it’s something that has been an undertaking for several months, it’s the outcome of this work. ”
President Macron and US President Joe Biden will meet by phone in the coming days to discuss the crisis, the French government spokesman said on Sunday.