France withdraws envoys from US and Australia in submarine protest

Newsletter: Europe Express

France has recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations, in a diplomatic protest against the new Australia-UK-US security pact under which the southern hemisphere country will buy nuclear-powered submarines from America and cancel its existing contract with Paris. 

Jean-Yves Le Drian, French foreign minister, issued a statement on Friday night saying he had been told to make the protest by President Emmanuel Macron.

The so-called Aukus deal between the three English-speaking countries “constitutes unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners, whose consequences touch the very foundation of what we do with our alliances and our partnerships and on the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”, he said.

France is particularly incensed at being excluded from the deal because it has had close military co-operation with each of the three countries involved in the new strategic arrangement, including anti-terrorist operations in the Sahel and Afghanistan.

Macron has also taken the lead in pushing the EU to do more for its own defence by promoting “strategic autonomy”, and has worked to prove to Australia and the US that France is a power in the Pacific, where it has island territories, including French Polynesia, across vast expanses of the ocean, as well as almost 2m citizens and 7,000 troops.

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