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French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Sunday that phone talks will take place between French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Joe Biden in the coming days to discuss the crisis between the two allies over the submarine deal for Australia.
On Saturday, the White House announced that it would communicate with France to discuss the crisis that erupted between the two countries. Amid mounting French anger, Paris accused Washington and Canberra of lying and contempt.
The crisis stemmed from a security alliance agreement, known as OCOS, between the United States, Britain and Australia that led to the cancellation of a massive $37 billion French submarine deal for Australia.
Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced the alliance agreement, under which Canberra will have the capabilities to build eight nuclear submarines.
France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia for consultations after the agreement was announced.
Atal stressed, in a television interview, that France will seek “clarification” on Australia’s cancellation of the order of French submarines in order to obtain US nuclear submarines.
The French spokesman denied Australian allegations about canceling the deal with France. “There was no talk of a termination of the contract with Australia in previous meetings, contrary to the clarifications announced later by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison,” he said.
He stressed that the contract between France and Australia on submarines must be respected to the end, and “in the event of cancellation of the contract, compensation must be paid to France.”
“contempt and duplicity”
On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Australia and the United States of “lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt” over the security agreement.
In an interview with France 2 television, Le Drian said that there was a “serious crisis” between the allies.
France was informed just hours before the public announcement made earlier this week.
Le Drian said the ambassadors had been summoned “to reassess the situation.”
“The fact that for the first time in the history of relations between the United States and France we are summoning our ambassador for consultations, which is a serious political act, shows the extent of the current crisis between our two countries,” he explained.
But he said France saw “no need” to recall its ambassador to Britain, which he accused of “persistent opportunism”.
“Britain in this whole thing is a bit like an outsider,” he added.
The new British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, justified Britain’s signing of a security agreement with Australia and the United States, saying that it would make her country safer and could provide hundreds of new jobs.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Lees, who took office this week, said the agreement showed Britain’s willingness to be “resolute” in defending its interests.
Under this alliance, America and Britain will give Australia the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines, in addition to sharing electronic capabilities, artificial intelligence and other technologies to work underwater, and Australia will be the seventh country in the world to operate nuclear submarines.
British National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove described the agreement as showing “profound strategic shifts”.
In addition to France, China has also criticized the agreement, describing the three countries as constantly thinking the same “Cold War mentality.”
The agreement is widely seen as an attempt to counter China’s influence in the disputed South China Sea.
Truss, who was promoted from international trade secretary to foreign secretary in this week’s reshuffle, wrote that the partnership demonstrated Britain’s commitment to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
She stressed that “liberties need to be defended, so we are also building strong security ties around the world.”
She explained that the agreement “will not only make us safer at home, but could also create hundreds of new highly skilled jobs.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his country’s position and canceled the previous agreement with France. He said he acted in the national interest of the country.
Morrison insisted that the French government “had every reason to know that we had deep and serious concerns”.
He said the deal, signed in 2016, to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines, “would not meet our strategic needs.”
Morrison added, “Of course it is very disappointing to the French government, so I understand those sentiments. But at the same time, Australia, like any sovereign nation, must always make decisions in our sovereign interest of national defence.”