France will send its ambassador back to Canberra after he was pulled out of Australia in protest when a $90billion deal to buy French submarines was scrapped.
Jean-Pierre Thebault was told to return to France in September after Australia signed a new submarine deal with the United States and United Kingdom as part of the AUKUS alliance.
But foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French parliament on Thursday (AEDT) he has asked the ambassador to return to Canberra with two missions: ‘to define our relationship with Australia in the future … and firmly defend our interests in the implementation of Australia’s decision to terminate the submarine program’.
Mr Morrison flew to France in June to meet with Mr Macron (pictured) but diplomatic relations have slumped after Australia reneged on a $90billion deal to buy French submarines
President Emmanuel Macron reacted furiously to Australia’s announcement on September 15 that it was scrapping its submarine contract with France in favour of a new one negotiated in secret with the US and Britain.
The French foreign minister accused Australia of back-stabbing and the United States of betrayal, calling the move reminiscent of the unilateralist attitude of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.
Paris recalled its envoys to both Australia and the United States over the furore.
But Macron later ordered the French ambassador to Washington to return to his post after a call with US President Joe Biden, which helped soothe tensions.
France however made clear it was not in as big a rush to mend fences with Australia, and kept its envoy to Canberra in Paris.
France’s anger stemmed not only from the loss of the submarine deal but also the shattering of an alliance with Australia that it saw as a cornerstone of its Indo-Pacific security strategy.
France recalled its envoy to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault (pictured) following Australia’s announcement that it was scrapping its multibillion-dollar submarine contract with France