France accused US President Joe Biden on Thursday of stabbing it in the back and behaving like his predecessor Donald Trump, after excluding Paris from one of the world’s biggest defense deals with Australia to build submarines.
The United States, Britain and Australia said earlier that they would establish an Indo-Pacific security partnership that would help Australia acquire US nuclear-powered submarines and cancel the $40 billion French-designed submarine deal.
“This unjust, unilateral and unexpected decision reminds me very much of what Mr. Trump was doing,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in comments broadcast on France Info radio.
“I feel angry and bitter. This does not happen between allies,” he added. Australia chose French shipbuilder Naval Group in 2016 to build a new $40 billion fleet of submarines to replace the more than 20-year-old Collins-class submarines.
The Australian defense and foreign ministers reaffirmed the deal about two weeks ago.
“It’s a stab in the back,” Le Drian said. “We have built a relationship of trust with Australia, and that trust has been violated.” Biden said on Wednesday that France remains a “key partner in the Indo-Pacific.”