British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought on Monday to smooth ties with France after the US, UK and Australia security alliance and submarine contract enraged Paris over losing a multi-billion-dollar defense contract with Canberra.
The US and Britain revealed on September 15 a new Indo-Pacific security alliance that will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which is widely seen as a move to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
The announcement enraged France that accused the US of “duplicity”, and Australia of “betrayal” and declared that a crisis struck at the heart of Western alliances.
France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia.
However, Paris did not recall its ambassador to London because it considered the UK’s part in the security alliance as a “junior” one, describing Britain as being a subordinate of the US.
France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said Britain, after leaving the European Union, “returned to the American fold with an accepted form of vassalization”.
“Global Britain seems to be more about [being] a junior partner of the US than working with different allies,” Beaune added.
Johnson seemed to be extending an olive branch to France’s Emmanuel Macron when he told reporters travelling with him to the UN in New York: “We are very, very proud of our relationship with France and it is of huge importance to this country.”
“It is a very friendly relationship… that goes back a century or more and is absolutely vital for us. This is something that goes very, very deep. Our love of France, our admiration of France is ineradicable,” British media quoted Johnson as saying.
The British PM also highlighted that the UK and France are working on joint military operations in Mali and the Baltic states, and the two nations are also working jointly on simulated nuclear testing program.