| 28 May 2024, Tuesday |

Australia says will be patient on rebuilding ties with France

A week after his rejection of a major submarine contract triggered a diplomatic spat with Paris, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he had sought but failed to schedule a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Morrison said he would be patient in repairing ties with France during a speech in Washington on Wednesday.

Paris has summoned its diplomats to Canberra and Washington, claiming it was caught off guard by Australia’s choice to construct nuclear-powered submarines with the US and UK rather than adhere to its diesel submarine deal with France.

Macron talked by phone with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday to ease tensions, and France announced that its ambassador will return to Washington next week.

Morrison, who is in the United States this week for a series of meetings, said he had attempted but failed to schedule his own conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“We have, in fact. And the time for that call hasn’t come yet. But we’ll wait, we’ll wait, we’ll wait, we’ll wait, “Morrison made the remarks after meeting with US senators to discuss the submarine agreement and the AUKUS security partnership between the US and the UK.

Morrison said he understood France’s disappointment and noted the cancellation of the submarine contract, initially valued at $40 billion and more recently at $60 billion, meant the issues were different to those between Washington and Paris, and they would take more time to work through.

“I look forward and when the time is right and when the opportunity presents that we will have a similar discussion,” he said.

Morrison said both the deal for Australia to establish a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and the new Australia, UK, U.S. tripartite security alliance (AUKUS) had received bipartisan support during his meetings with U.S. lawmakers and officials.

  • Reuters