Former French ambassador to the USA, Gérard Araud, told Sky News that the group had left France out as they established a security alliance against China. He claims the repatriation of French diplomats from the US and Australia is due to a sense of betrayal by the three countries after Australia dropped France from a lucrative €31 billion nuclear submarine development contract.
“We wanted to build a strategic partnership which would be the pillar of our Asia-Pacific strategy…” he fumed. “Our navies were training together!”
“Suddenly, not only do we lose an important contract, but a strategic partnership is thrown away overnight, and there is a lot of the partnership that is announced, and France is excluded from the partnership!”
“And I think the Americans and the Australian’s have added insult to injury because suddenly we discover they have been plotting behind our back for weeks and months.”
It is “not the way to treat allies,” he added, citing the shunning’s disastrous effect on France.
Mr Phillips then questioned why France and Britain couldn’t be allies despite Australia and the USA’s divergent positions.
“The first is political: we have been undercut in what we considered very important, and we have been undercut by our closest allies.”
“The way it has been done has been amazing. We were not told, we were not warned – basically, we were told through the TV!”
To grab these contracts from the French, the British and Australians have been planning behind our backs for months. That approach has been highly undiplomatic, he added, and that the UK has become a “fifth wheel,” which is why French ambassadors have not been evacuated from London.
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However, Trevor Phillips wondered how polite it was of Mr Auraud to tweet that a “Monty Python government” now controls Britain. “It is extremely funny. I am not a diplomat anymore,” Araud retorted. I am using the freedom of retirement to say what I believe!”
The Aukus accord will allow Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines using US technology for the first time and AI and other technologies.
In a statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed the deal “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.
Despite the stinging snub, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK-France relationship was “rock solid.”