WORLD / EUROPE
French ambassador to return to Australia after row over subs deal
Published: Oct 07, 2021 06:01 PM
Visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a joint press conference with Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi (not in the picture) in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 13, 2019. Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi said on Sunday that France and Jordan agreed that the lack of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict threatens the security of Middle East. (Xinhua/Mohammad Abu Ghosh)

Visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a joint press conference with Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi (not in the picture) in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 13, 2019. Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi said on Sunday that France and Jordan agreed that the lack of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict threatens the security of Middle East. (Xinhua/Mohammad Abu Ghosh)


France announced Wednesday it will return its ambassador to Australia, ending a weeks-long diplomatic protest over Canberra's decision to scrap a submarine contract.

Paris recalled its envoy on September 17, enraged at Australia's decision to tear up a landmark defense contract worth about $65 billion in favor of a US offer. 

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told parliament the ambassador would now return to Canberra with "two objectives."

He said envoy Jean-Pierre Thebault would "define our relationship with Australia in the future" and "firmly defend our interests" as the two sides negotiate a settlement.

Since the contracts for the 12 French attack submarines had already been signed, the severance deal could cost Australia hundreds of millions of dollars.

The ambassador's planned return was welcomed by Australia's government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he hoped the allies could now "move beyond our recent disappointments." 

"Obviously the two countries, France and Australia, share a number of common interests, particularly in our work together in the region. So, let's hope we can get that relationship back on track," he told Channel 9 television.

French President Emmanuel Macron reacted furiously to Australia's announcement on September 15 that it had secretly lined up a new, nuclear-powered submarine deal with the United States and Britain.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian accused Australia of back-stabbing and the United States of betrayal, calling the move reminiscent of the unilateralist attitude of former president Donald Trump.


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