Singapore: France has pointedly omitted Australia in laying out its Indo-Pacific strategy as its fury simmers over the ripping up of a $90 billion submarine deal and President Emmanuel Macron’s claim that Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him.
Paris is seeking to enhance ties elsewhere in the region after relations with the Morrison government broke down spectacularly and on Wednesday it turned its attention to Indonesia, with French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian visiting Jakarta for meetings with President Joko Widodo and other Indonesian ministers.
But as France looks to boost its links with south-east Asia’s most populous country, the dismal state of affairs between the European power and Australia has been reinforced.
In Jakarta on Wednesday night, Le Drian said France felt “cheated” by Australia over the formation of AUKUS, under which Canberra will acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines rather than the Attack-class vessels it was to buy from France.
“Within NATO, the United States and the United Kingdom are our allies. Of course, Australia is not a part of it. Nonetheless, they are historically our allies and they acted behind our back on strategic and military issues,” he said during an appearance at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
“This is a trust crisis. My first comment was [it was] some sort of betrayal. The second element is a crisis of trust between historical partners, which is even more of a concern.”
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