French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying to him about the frustrated sale of submarines to Australia over the formation of an alliance between Canberra, the UK and the US known as AUCUS.
Australia’s decision to break off a billion-dollar deal to buy twelve submarines from France and negotiate that defense pact with the US and Britain has sparked a serious diplomatic crisis between those countries.
“I have a lot of respect for his country. I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for his people. I just say, if there is respect, you have to be sincere and behave consistently.” said Macron, who met with Morrison on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
After being asked by journalists from Australian newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age whether he thought Morrison was dishonest, he said, “I don’t think I know.” It also avoided evaluating Morrison’s pledge to purchase these nuclear submarines at the end of an 18-month review period.
In response, Morrison has denied lying to Macron at their June meeting at the Elysee, stressing that during his visit to Paris he relocated that the submarines supplied by the French firm Naval Group did not meet Australian needs.
“It was very clear to me that conventional submarines could not do justice to our strategic interests and that we would make a decision based on our national interests,” he said before stressing that he did not address the AUKUS question because “it it is not part of having open discussions about it. “
“Let me be very clear. The decision I made as Prime Minister, the decision my government made, was in Australia’s national interest,” he said. “These decisions are difficult. Of course they have caused disappointment and repercussions on relations with France.”
Macron himself had his first telephone conversation with Morrison on Thursday since the outbreak of the crisis, in which he regretted that the “relationship of trust” between the two countries had broken. He said it was a “unilateral decision” that led to “another project that has yet to be completed”.
For his part, United States President Joe Biden admitted to Macron on Friday that the crisis sparked by frustrated submarine sales was the result of “awkwardness” by the White House, in a gesture the French President accepted as a starting point for strengthening bilateral relations with a view “to the future”.