The Australian Prime Minister has said he understands France’s “disappointment” after its government abandoned a multi-billion dollar submarine deal in favor of a pact with the United States and Britain.
Scott Morrison defended his decision to get out of the £ 30 billion deal with the French, claiming it was concluded out of “national defense interests”.
By joining the US and UK in Aukus, a trilateral security partnership, Australia canceled the contract signed in 2016 for the French Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines.
Instead, the Australian Navy, with the help of the USA and Great Britain, is to acquire a more efficient fleet of nuclear-powered – if not nuclear-armed – ships.
France has since responded with anger, saying it had not received sufficient warnings about the cancellation of the $ 90 billion (£ 65 billion) deal and Aukus’ announcement was “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners”.
Speaking at a briefing on Sunday, Mr Morrison said: “Of course the French government is a big disappointment, so I understand their disappointment.
“But at the same time, like any sovereign nation, Australia must always make decisions that are in our sovereign national defense interests.”
Meanwhile, newly appointed Secretary of State Liz Truss fully defended Britain’s security pact with the US and Australia, claiming the deal showed Britain’s willingness to be “sober” in defending its interests.
Writing in Sunday telegraph, Ms. Truss said the deal – widely viewed as an antithesis to the growing Chinese military in the region – underscores the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific.
Britain has always been a “fierce advocate” of freedom and free enterprise around the world, she said, “but freedoms need to be defended, so we are also building strong security relationships around the world.”
“So last week the Prime Minister, along with our friends President Biden and Prime Minister Morrison, announced the creation of a new security partnership called Aukus,” she wrote.
“It shows our willingness to defend our interests soberly and to question unfair practices and malicious acts.”
Earlier in a series of interviews with French television, European Minister Clement Beaune accused Great Britain of returning to the “American lap”.
He said: “Our British friends have told us that they are leaving the EU to create Global Britain. We can see that this is a return to the American bosom and a form of accepted vassalization.
“The UK is clearly trying to gain a foothold, maybe they haven’t given any thought to the strategic future. Today they are hiding in the American lap. I hope this will not be your policy in the coming decades. “
He later added, “We see through this partnership, this strategic alliance, and after the Kabul crisis, that Global Britain is more about a US junior partner than working with various allies.”