France said Friday that it recalled its ambassadors from the US and Australia for “consultations” over a new military pact Paris was left out of that caused Australia to scrap a $65 billion plan to buy French submarines.
“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,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
The US, UK, and Australia announced a new military pact called AUKUS on Wednesday that aims to counter China. The deal focuses on technology sharing, and the first initiative will give Australia nuclear-powered submarines, giving them no use for the French ones.
On Thursday, Le Drian said the move from Australia amounts to a “stab in the back.” US officials only notified Paris of AUKUS a few hours before it was announced. The French ambassador said he learned of the deal from news reports that were published before the announcement.
Strengthening cooperation with allies in the Pacific is key to the Biden administration’s strategy to confront China. The deal means more US troops, aircraft, and potentially previously-banned intermediate-range missiles will be deployed to Australia.