In an unprecedented step that revealed the extent of French anger against its allies, Paris recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in response to the trilateral partnership on security in Indian and Pacific oceans signed by the two countries- dubbed AUKUS- along with the UK, CNN reports.
French official said that this might well be the first time Paris has resorted to such a move in modern times. The move also creates another foreign policy challenge for President Biden, who has prioritized repairing US alliances Trump has shaken.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed Biden administration’s regrets over France’s decision, denying that AUKUS had created regional divide, but pointed that they understand France’s positon and that the US will continue to engage in the coming days to resolve the differences with its oldest European ally.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said in a statement that Canberra regrets the recall of the French ambassador, but understands France’s deep disappointment with Australia’s decision that was taken in accordance with its clear and communicated national security interests.
The day the US announced creating a security partnership with the UK and Australia, Canberra scrapped AU$90 billion submarine contract with Paris that a resulted in a ferocious row after the French called the move a stab in the back.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian informed on Friday that he’s recalling to Paris without delay France’s ambassadors to the US and to Australia for consultations at the request of the President of the Republic.
They justified this decision with the exceptional gravity of the announcements made by Australia and the US, noting that the abandoning of the submarine project by Canberra constitutes unacceptable behavior between allies and partners which affect the partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.
To add insult to injury, France reportedly found out about the deal from media reports, rather than from Washington or Canberra directly, with French Housing Minister Emmanuelle Wargon stressing on Saturday that France still awaits explanations over the issue.
She pointed that the recall of the ambassadors is a wake-up call and a necessary reaction to events that should not occur between allies though Aussie officials insist they’ve made it very clear that the French-Australian deal may be cancelled.
In addition to ambassadors’ recall, French Secretary of Foreign Affairs Clement Beaune urged Europe on Saturday to strengthen its capacities for defence and strategic autonomy, stressing that Americans have nothing to do with “ensuring our defence in the matter“ .
And although Le Drian didn’t recall its ambassador to the UK, Beaune rebuked its neighbor saying it had returned to the American fold with an accepted form of vassalisation.