US,Australia anti-France deal undermines trust between allies

TEHRAN, Sep. 21 (MNA) – Paris says it's assessing all options in response to Australia's scrapping of a $40 billion submarine contract last week, while Germany says Washington and Canberra had damaged trust between allies.

Germany joined France on Tuesday in berating the United States for negotiating a security pact in secret with Australia and Britain that cost Paris a lucrative defence deal, while the EU's top official said such behaviour was unacceptable. 

"One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable, so we need to know what happened and why," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in defence of France, Reuters reported.

Her EU executive asked for the preparatory EU discussions for the US trade and technology council to be taken off Wednesday's agenda, two EU diplomats told.

France said it was assessing all options in response to Australia's scrapping of a $40 billion submarine contract last week, while its biggest EU ally, Germany, rallied behind it, saying Washington and Canberra had damaged trust between allies that would be difficult to rebuild. 

"We cannot exclusively rely on others but must cooperate, and we have to overcome our differences (within the EU) and speak with one voice," German European affairs minister Michael Roth told reporters at a meeting with his counterparts in Brussels.

"We all need to sit down at a table; lost trust has to be rebuilt - and this will obviously not be easy. But we want to make a constructive contribution," he added.

The dispute follows what NATO's European allies say was Washington's failure to communicate and consult during the chaotic Western withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Australia said it would cancel its order for conventional submarines from France, which were conventional, diesel-electric powered, and British technology under a new security partnership named AUKUS. 

Britain is also looking for a global role after its decision to leave the EU.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he wants to know why his country, which has a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific, was left completely in the dark.

The EU's top diplomat was also not consulted, despite close historical, cultural, economic and security ties between Europe, Australia and the United States.

"We cannot act as if nothing happened. We need to look into all options," he told reporters in Brussels. EU foreign ministers, meeting in New York, also expressed solidarity with France.

Beaune welcomed the EU support, stressing that this was a European matter, not just a French problem, and the bloc should be more assertive in defending its interests, although it was unclear what steps the bloc could take quickly.

RHM/PR

News Code 178930

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