France has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultations sparked by the â€œexceptional seriousnessâ€ of Canberraâ€™s surprise decision to cancel an order for French-built submarines and its security pact with Washington and London.
â€œThis exceptional decision is justified because of the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States,â€ Le Drian said in a statement late on Friday.
â€œThe abandoning of the ocean class submarine project that linked Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States to launch studies on possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect the very conception we have of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific region for Europe,â€ Le Drian added.
A White House official told Reuters that the United States regretted the French decision and said Washington had been in close touch with Paris.
The United Kingdom had acted in an opportunistic manner, a French diplomatic source said on Friday.
The Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, in Washington, said she understood the â€œdisappointmentâ€ in Paris and hoped to work with France to ensure it understands â€œthe value we place on the bilateral relationship and the work that we want to continue to do togetherâ€