“We did not disfigure the Eiffel Tower”: Australia responds after Emmanuel Macron accused Scott Morrison of lying about a submarine deal

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Australia hit back at France after French President Emmanuel Macron accused the country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying to France about a £ 49bn abandoned submarine contract in favor of partner with the United States and the United Kingdom in a new defense partnership.

When asked if the Australian leader lied to him when canceling the contract to buy French diesel-electric submarines as the G20 summit in Rome drew to a close, Mr Macron told the journalists: “I don’t think so, I know.

“I’m just saying that when we have respect you have to be real and you have to behave in accordance and consistently with that value. “

Paris remains furious over the AUKUS deal which will see Australia cancel its 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build a new fleet to replace its aging Collins submarines.

On Monday, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce weighed in on the row and told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that defense was the country’s top priority, which should take precedence over diplomacy.

Speaking to reporters in Moree, Mr Joyce said: “It was a contract. We did not steal an island. We have not degraded the Eiffel Tower. “

When asked if Australia could have handled the situation better, Joyce added: “Looking back. You know, tomorrow the Melbourne Cup is launched. If only I could bet on the one from last year, I could win some money. “

London, Canberra and Washington have said they will seek collaboration in the areas of cyber technology, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence, as well as other underwater capabilities.

Nuclear powered submarines are superior to their diesel counterparts because they can run quieter and stay underwater longer.

How the collaboration will work, how much it will cost, how many boats will be built, where and what companies will be involved has not yet been revealed.

The deal has sparked mixed reactions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Malaysia and Indonesia have expressed concerns that this is adding to the pressure in hot spots such as the South China Sea.

China, which claims most of the disputed sea, said the new security deal between Australia, the United States and Britain “intensifies the arms race.”

Last month, France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in response to the new partnership, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calling Canberra’s decision to switch to nuclear submarines as “a coup with a dagger in the back ”.

“We have created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been severed,” he said.

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