Paris, Sep 20 (IANS) France has rebuked Australia and the US for “a major breach of trust and contempt” in the submarine row, following the decision to recall its Ambassadors from the two countries.
Speaking to France 2 television, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said the withdrawal of the Ambassadors, for the first time in France’s history vis-a-vis the two countries, was a “very symbolic” act reflecting “a grave crisis between us”, reports Xinhua news agency.
“There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt,” he said, adding the consequences could impact strategic relations within NATO.
“NATO initiated a discussion of its concept,” said Le Drian.
“The next NATO summit in Madrid will work on a new strategic concept. Obviously what has just happened will be of relevance to this definition.”
France would make a priority developing an EU security strategy when it takes on the bloc’s presidency at the start of 2022, he added.
Under the new security partnership unveiled on September 15between Australia, the UK and the US, known as ‘AUKUS’, Canberra will build nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology.
On September 16, Australia announced it would scrap the deal with France signed in 2016 to purchase 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
In response, Le Drian called the trilateral move a “stab in the back”.
On September 17, France recalled its Ambassadors to the US and Australia, and said the “exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional seriousness” of the AUKUS announcements.