France on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a joint submarine deal that French leaders said was tantamount to a stab in the back.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was directed by President Emmanuel Macron to recall the ambassadors—a move that is typically reserved only for extreme cases and usually against adversaries—in protest of the deal. Le Drian and others have argued that neither the United States, nor Australia consulted with France beforehand.
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” Le Drian said. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
Canberra announced earlier this week that it would scrap a deal worth tens of billions of dollars with France to instead use nuclear submarine technology built by the United States and United Kingdom. American officials later said they informed Paris just hours before Biden’s announcement of the deal on Wednesday.
For that, Le Drian slammed the alleged “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect the very conception that we have of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.”
Macron, who hasn’t made public comments on the deal, received a letter from Morrison on Wednesday morning announcing the cancellation of their deal, Le Drian said on Friday. French officials then attempted to contact the White House to ascertain the situation, he said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week tried to control the damage by praising France as a crucial ally in the Indo-Pacific but no to avail.