Morrison says no opportunity for meeting with French president in New York - GulfToday

Morrison says no opportunity for meeting with French president in New York


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a news conference. File photo

Gulf Today Report

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday he will not speak with the French president at the United Nations this week even though French anger over cancellation of a $40 billion defence contract could threaten an Australian-EU trade deal.

Morrison continued to deny French claims that they only became aware of the nuclear submarine deal the day it was announced.


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“It would be naive to think that a decision of this nature was not going to cause disappointment, obviously, to the French. We understand that. We totally acknowledge that,” Morrison told reporters in New York City ahead of a meeting with Biden and the leaders of India and Japan who make up the Quad security forum.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during an event.

"It was not possible for us to be able to discuss such secure issues in relation to our dealings with other countries at that time. We have made it very clear, I had made it very clear, that a conventional submarine would no longer be meeting our strategic interests and what we needed those boats to do. That had been communicated very clearly many months ago,” Morrison added.

Australia last week scrapped a deal with France's Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership with those two countries.

US President Joe Biden speaks during a conference.

The cancellation of the deal has angered France, which accused both Australia and the United States of stabbing it in the back, and it recalled its ambassadors from both Canberra and Washington.

While US President Joe Biden has sought to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron to ease tension, Morrison said he would not hold a separate bilateral meeting with the French leader.

"There is not an opportunity for that at this time. I'm sure that opportunity will come in time," Morrison told reporters in New York when asked if he would speak to Macron on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

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