Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks to the media. File photo
France expressed fury on Thursday over Australia's surprise decision to scrap a huge submarine deal as the country accused US President Joe Biden of stabbing it in the back.
France further said that Biden is acting like his predecessor Donald Trump after Paris was pushed aside from a lucrative defence deal that it had signed with Australia for submarines.
The United States, Britain and Australia said they would establish a security partnership for the Indo-Pacific that will help Australia acquire US nuclear-powered submarines and scrap the $40 billion French-designed submarine deal.
"It's really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio.
"I'm very angry today, and bitter... this is not something allies do to each other," he said.
Joe Biden participates in a virtual press conference with Boris Johnson (right) and Scott Morrison. AFP
"This unilateral, sudden and unforeseeable decision very much recalls what Mr Trump would do," Le Drian added, referring to the previous US president Donald Trump who exasperated Europe with unpredictable decision-making.
Two weeks ago, the Australian defence and foreign ministers had reconfirmed the deal to France, and French President Emmanuel Macron lauded decades of future cooperation when hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in June.
The move underscores increasing concerns about China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, where France is also looking to protect its interests that include the overseas territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
Defence Minister Florence Parly called Australia's about-face "very bad news with regard to keeping one's word", while adding that France is "clear-eyed as to how the United States treats its allies".
"In terms of geopolitics and international relations, it's serious," she told RFI radio on Thursday.
Parly and Le Drian had already denounced a "regrettable" move by Canberra in a statement overnight, saying it underscored the need to bolster "a European strategic autonomy"."There is no other credible way to defend our interests and our values in the world, including in the Indo-Pacific," they said.
At a televised White House announcement, Biden was flanked by large video displays of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia's Morrison, who each took part remotely.
Under the partnership, announced by President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the United States and Britain will provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
It is the first agreement on the technology to be publicly signed since the three countries announced in September the formation of a defence alliance, AUKUS, to confront strategic tensions in the Pacific where China-US rivalry is growing.
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