Okus: Australia denies closing defense pact with UK and US behind France’s back | international

The serious diplomatic crisis caused by the defense agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States with Australia to supply this country with nuclear submarines, at the expense of an earlier agreement with France, shows no signs of abating. Two days after Paris decided to recall its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra for consultations, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday enlisted to defend the pact baptized as Aukus, while several members of his government denied the Paris accusations, who berate Australia for perpetrating the lie. A French government spokesman announced hours later that French President Emmanuel Macron will ask his US counterpart, Joe Biden, for “clarifications” in a phone conversation she will have in the “next few days.”

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appeared on the France 2 newscast, on Saturday, accusing the United States and Australia of losing confidence in ending the agreement with France and closing their alternative tripartite agreement with “double, contempt and comfort.” The now-cancelled commercial commitment – made in 2016 – included the purchase of 12 conventional diesel submarines from France’s Naval Group for $37 billion (€31.5 billion). Paris insists that the Aukus Agreement was negotiated in secret and that the French president was not fully aware of it until an hour before it was announced, on September 15. In a radio interview the day after this announcement, Le Drian called it a “backstabbing” of France.

On Sunday, the Australian Prime Minister responded to the criticism with a media appearance, using a more conservative tone but without making any concessions. Morrison said the French government had “all the elements” to know that his country had “serious and serious concerns” that the now-defunct agreement to buy conventional French submarines “would not satisfy” its “strategic interests”. It is “very clear” that they will make a decision based on their “strategic national interest”. The Australian prime minister claimed to have informed President Macron of these concerns in June.

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“Of course it is a huge disappointment for the French government, so I understand their disappointment,” Morrison explained. “But at the same time, Australia, like any sovereign nation, must make decisions that respond to our sovereign national defense interests,” he explained.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton added that Australia had been “frank, open and honest” with France. Hints that the Australian government has not mentioned [a Francia] Their concerns challenge, frankly, what is in the public domain and certainly what they have said publicly for a long period of time,” Dutton told Sky News. Another member of the Australian Executive, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, reiterated that his country had informed Paris in agreement with the states The United States and the United Kingdom, although he acknowledged that the negotiations were confidential given the “enormous sensitivities”.

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Biden’s explanations

Hours after these arguments were broadcast, the French government’s spokesman, Gabriel Attal, announced to BFM TV the phone conversation that Macron would have with Biden, without specifying a specific date, although he confirmed that it would be “in the next few days.” The spokesman explained that the French president will ask for “explanations” regarding the termination of the contract with France, including compensation for the French consortium.

The United Kingdom on Sunday also justified this agreement, which angered not only France, but also China, a power whose growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region aims to counter the Aukus Agreement, according to various analysts. Britain’s newly appointed foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said in an article published Sunday in the newspaper, that the newly appointed British Foreign Secretary used the same argument that the Australian Prime Minister used to advocate a defense agreement that defends the “national interests” of her country. Sunday Telegraph. “It’s about more than just foreign policy in theory, but it’s about…partnering with like-minded nations to build alliances based on shared values ​​and interests,” Truss wrote.

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France’s discontent is not only explained by the cancellation of the contract. And their exclusion from the Aukus Strategic Alliance in the Indo-Pacific region is an affront to Paris. In this vast area, France maintains several overseas territories such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and despite its lesser prominence in recent years on the world stage, the French state considers itself an international power. France holds one of the five permanent veto seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Nor did the European Union look favorably on the Aukus Agreement, which not only harms the interests of one of its prominent members, but also endangers the transatlantic relationship with the United States and further strains already strained relations with the United Kingdom. due to Britain’s exit from the European Union. A European diplomat told Reuters that the tripartite agreement also calls into question Europe’s geopolitical ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. EU leaders will discuss this issue and the crisis it has caused at the summit scheduled for October 6 in Slovenia.

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