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French fury as Aukus pact leaves it out in the cold on submarine deal

France has strongly criticized Australia's decision to buy US submarine technology as part of the new security alliance with the US and Britain that was announced on Wednesday.

Paris, 16 September 2021 (dpa/MIA) — France has strongly criticized Australia’s decision to buy US submarine technology as part of the new security alliance with the US and Britain that was announced on Wednesday.

Australia’s decision to build nuclear-powered submarines with US and British support will cost France a deal worth 56 billion euro (66 billion dollars) it signed in 2016 to provide Australia with conventional submarines.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly described the move as being against the spirit of the cooperation between France and Australia, which they said was built on political trust.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden at a joint press conference via AVL from The Blue Room at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, September 16, 2021. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

“I am furious, this is not something you do among allies,” Le Drian told France Info radio on Thursday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

He compared the “unilateral, brutal and unpredictable decision” to the behavior of former US president Donald Trump.

“We have built a relationship of trust with Australia, that trust has been betrayed,” Le Drian said. Canberra would now have to explain how it intended to get out of the contract, he said. “We are not done with this story yet.”

10 September 2021, Thuringia, Weimar: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a press conference at Bauhaus University Weimar at an event held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Weimar Triangle. Photo: Jens Schlueter/POOL-AFP/dpa

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that he understood French frustration at losing out on the deal.

“I understand France’s disappointment. They had a contract with the Australians for diesel-electrics from 2016 and the Australians have taken this decision that they want to make a change.”

“We didn’t go fishing for that, but as a close ally, when the Australians approached us, of course we would consider it,” Wallace added.

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