France Condemns US and Australia 'Lies' Over Security Pact, Nuke Submarine Deal

France Condemns US and Australia 'Lies'  Over Security Pact, Nuke Submarine Deal
France Condemns US and Australia 'Lies'  Over Security Pact, Nuke Submarine Deal

France's foreign minister has accused Australia and the US of lying over a new security pact that prompted Paris to recall its ambassadors.

Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the countries of "duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt", the BBC said on Sunday.

In an interview with France 2 television on Saturday, Le Drian said a "serious crisis" was in progress between the allies following the controversial nuclear submarine the US is to sell to Australia.

The pact means Australia will become just the seventh nation in the world to operate nuclear-powered submarines. It will also see the allies share cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and other undersea technologies.

"The fact that for the first time in the history of relations between the United States and France we are recalling our ambassador for consultations is a serious political act, which shows the magnitude of the crisis that exists now between our countries," he said. The ambassadors were being recalled to "reevaluate the situation".

The pact, known as Aukus, thwarted a multibillion-dollar deal France had signed with Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had acted in the country's national interests.

He insisted the French government "would have had every reason to know that we had deep and grave concerns" that the $37 billion (£27b) deal signed in 2016 - for France to build 12 conventional submarines - "was not going to meet our strategic interests".

"Of course it's a matter of great disappointment to the French government, so I understand their disappointment," he said. "But at the same time, Australia like any sovereign nation must always take decisions that are in our sovereign national defense interest."

The Aukus agreement - which also includes the UK - will see Australia being given the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines as a way of countering China's influence in the contested South China Sea.

France was informed only hours before the public announcement was made earlier this week.

But he said France had seen "no need" to recall its ambassador to the UK, as he accused the country of "constant opportunism".

"Britain in this whole thing is a bit like the third wheel," he said.

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