French Pull Out of Defence Summit with British Amid ‘AUKUS’ Submarine Row

France
PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images

France has pulled out of a planned defence summit with Britain amid an ongoing row between Paris, London, Canberra, and Washington D.C. over submarines.

Lord Ricketts, who would have co-chaired the two-day summit, delicately suggested that it had been “postponed to a later date”, according to the BBC.

Emmanuel Macron’s government is furious with Australia, the United States, and Britain over the cancellation of a contract to build Australian submarines worth tens of billions of pounds in favour of U.S. and possibly UK hardware, as part of the new AUKUS (Australia-United Kingdom-United States) defence pact, intended to counter aggression by Communist China in the Indo-Pacific.

The French — who are not above showing naked self-interest in matters of defence and have been accused of some hypocrisy in this matter — had already taken the extraordinary step of recalling their ambassadors to Australia and America over the submarine deal, but up to now had not taken action against the British — except to publicly disparage them as “accepting a form of vassal status” and sitting in the “American lap” post-Brexit, saying they were a “fifth wheel on the carriage” in the deal.

Their language towards Australia has been far stronger, however, with the former British colony being bizarrely accused of “treason” and “a stab in the back”.

Australian prime ministerr Scott Morrison has stood by his decision to pull out of the French deal, however, given the fact it was being dogged by delays and cost overruns.

“Ultimately, this was a decision about whether the submarines that were being built, at great cost to the Australian taxpayer, were going to be able to do a job that we needed it to do when they went into service and our strategic judgement based on the best possible of intelligence and defence advice was that it would not,” he told the media on Sundy, adding elsewhere: “I don’t regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first.”

Boris Johnson, for his part, has sought to appease the French, despite their insults, telling reporters that “Our love of France is ineradicable” and insisting that “AUKUS is not in any way meant to be zero-sum, it’s not meant to be exclusionary. It’s not something that anybody needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends.”

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