France has recalled its ambassadors from both the United States and Australia over a trilateral security deal which sank a French-designed submarine contract with Canberra.
The rare decision taken by French President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the “exceptional gravity” of the matter, according to Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement.
On Thursday, Australia said it would scrap a $40 billion deal signed in 2016 for France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership.
But France has called it a stab in the back and a diplomatic source in France said it was the first time Paris had recalled its own ambassadors in this way.
On Saturday morning Australia said it regretted the recall, and that it valued the relationship with France and would keep engaging with Paris on other issues.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that France was a ‘vital ally’ and that the United States would be engaged in coming days to resolve the differences.
The French foreign ministry statement made no mention of Britain, but the diplomatic source said France considered Britain had joined the deal in an opportunistic manner.
Le Drian said the deal was unacceptable and that the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners.