In this Aug 17, 2021 photo, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. (ROHAN THOMSON / AFP)
CANBERRA – Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday he had raised the possibility that Australia might scrap a 2016 submarine deal with a French company in talks with the French president in June, rejecting French criticism that it had not been warned.
Australian PM Scott Morrison acknowledged the damage to Australia-France ties but insisted he had told the French president in June that Australia had revised its thinking on the deal and might have to make another decision
Australia on Thursday said it would scrap the US$40 billion deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the decision as a stab in the back.
On Thursday, Morrison said France had been informed of the decision ahead of the announcement but France denied that.
Morrison on Friday acknowledged the damage to Australia-France ties but insisted he had told French President Emmanuel Macron in June that Australia had revised its thinking on the deal and might have to make another decision.
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“I made it very clear, we had a lengthy dinner there in Paris, about our very significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment we’re faced with,” Morrison told 5aa Radio.
“I made it very clear that this was a matter that Australia would need to make a decision on in our national interest,” he said.