Australia urged to repair ties with ‘blindsided’ France after submarine deal fallout

In response, France announced it would be withdrawing its ambassadors from Australia and the US immediately.

On Saturday, Labor’s spokesperson for legal affairs, Mark Dreyfus, urged the prime minister to explain exactly how he planned to mend Australia’s relationship with France.

“The French were blindsided by this decision and Mr Morrison should have done much more to protect the relationship,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“The impact on our relationship with France is a concern, particularly as a country with important interests in our region.

“The Morrison-Joyce Government needs to explain what it is going to do to protect this important relationship.”

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France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian responded by calling the deal a “stab in the back” by Australia. 

On Saturday, France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-PIerre Thebault revealed he had only learned about Australia’s decision to scrap the $90 billion contract through the media.

“We were deliberately kept in the black,” Mr Thebault told the ABC. “We were deliberately ignored, and you can realise how deep we feel about such a thing.

“How could it be possible? That’s the reason for our deep feelings. It is a lack of trust, it’s a breach of confidence.”

Mr Thebault went on to say France deserved an explanation from Australia, saying “re-establishing trust is key”. 

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June.

Source: EPA

“There will be a need for explanation and we expect such explanations will be provided but also that there will be a substantial gesture that will demonstrate the fact that we are back on track,” he said.

“The relationship between France and Australia was built on trust. Everything was supposed to be done in full transparency between the two partners.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had noted France’s decision to recall its ambassador “with regret”.

“Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,” the spokesperson said.

“Australia values its relationship with France, which is an important partner and a vital contributor to stability, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

“This will not change.” 

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