Enraged France recalls ambassadors to US and Australia over collapsed submarine deal

17 September 2021, 22:24 | Updated: 18 September 2021, 00:33

Macron ordered France's ambassador to the US be recalled
Macron ordered France's ambassador to the US be recalled. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

France has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia over the new nuclear submarine alliance as relations between the countries sour.

Paris was enraged when Australia ditched a multi-billion dollar deal to buy French conventional submarines in favour of nuclear ones using US technology.

The announcement came as the UK, America and Australia also agreed to setting up the AUKUS alliance, designed to counter China's ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The French foreign ministry said it is the first time France has ever recalled its ambassador to the US.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian wrote that the decision, requested by President Emmanuel Macron, "is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements" made by Australia and the US.

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Wednesday's announcement about the submarine deal was "unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners", he said.

It is very unusual to recall ambassadors between allied countries – though France has done it, to Italy in 2019 following Rome's critical comments about the French government.

France also recalled its ambassador to Turkey when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Mr Macron needed mental health help.

Mr Macron has yet to comment on the issue since President Biden announced AUKUS.

A top French diplomat, speaking anonymously, described a "crisis" in its relations with the US and said added: "This is a strategic question concerning the very nature of the relationship between Europe and the United States about the Indo-Pacific strategy".

The diplomat went on to say Mr Macron was given a letter from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday morning.

It confirmed the submarine deal was to be scrapped, with the French then being told about the new situation by US officials just a few hours before the AUKUS announcement.

Mr Le Drian has previously called the deal's scrapping a "stab in the back" earlier in the week.