According to Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, Canberra kept Washington informed about its relations with France. This is despite Joe Biden’s earlier assertion that Paris had known of the AUKUS agreement before he spoke.
France was shocked and said that it had been stabbed in its back by leaders from the USA, UK and Australia after mid-September’s surprise announcement about the AUKUS agreement. This was because Canberra’s plan to equip it with nuclear-powered subs led to the Australian government cancelling its $90 billion contract with Paris. France also recalled both its Ambassadors to Washington and Canberra. However, they have since returned.
When addressed on the trio’s falling out with Paris during the G20 Summit in Rome on Saturday, Morrison told reporters that Canberra “kept the US administration up to date on the status of what the conversations and discussions had been with the French government.”
“We worked closely with the US and the UK. We kept them up-to-date – the administration – as to where we were at in our various discussions with France,”He told media.
Prime Minister again supported the decision not to sign the French contract and stated that the Australian government had to approve it. “ensure we had the right submarine capability to deal with our strategic interests.”
“There was never an easy way for us, I think, to get to a point where we had to disappoint a friend and partner – it was a difficult decision, but for Australia, it was the right decision.”
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However, Morrison’s comments didn’t line up with the account offered by Biden to French President Emmanuel Macron during their talks in Rome a day earlier.
Macron received an apology from the US president, stating that he was sorry. “under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal [with Canberra] was not going through.”
“What we did was clumsy,”Biden commented on the Paris treatment regarding AUKUS. “It wasn’t done with a lot of grace.” It’s not clear if the remark was made in reference to his own administration or both the US and the Australian governments.
On Saturday’s summit in Rome, Macron and Morrison met for the first-ever time since the scandal with the diplomats. The meeting was informal and brief, just before the official photo of G20 leaders.
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French president tells Australian leader it’s up to Canberra to repair relations after AUKUS deal damaged trust
“I said g’day,”Morrison spoke of the conversation with French President. “It’s just the process of being on the road back.”
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