France has remained a “key partner” to the United States in many respects, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as he seeks to address Paris’ outrage over a security agreement between the US, the United Kingdom and Australia that has not included the European Union.
At a press conference with US and Australian officials on Thursday, Blinken said the US wanted to “seize every opportunity” to strengthen cooperation with France, including in the Indo-Pacific region.
It came the next day triple advertising a security agreement, dubbed “AUKUS”, which sees the US and UK support the development of Australian nuclear submarines.
“We warmly welcome European countries that are playing a key role in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said. “We are ready to continue our close cooperation with NATO, the EU and others in this process.”
The US ambassador confirmed the importance of the US-France partnership.
“In particular, France is a great partner in many other areas – long-term, and far-reaching,” he said.
France was furious
The new alliance has left France, which operates underwater transport in Australia, to blow.
On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to suspend the 2016 agreement to buy diesel-powered submarines manufactured by the French company Naval Group, saying regular ships had become “inconsistent” with the country’s labor needs due to “rapid security reforms.” local “.
He also said that this was not to be taken lightly. “As free-thinking democracies, Australia and France have agreed in the same way on international law that has provided stability and development in the Indo-Pacific,” added Morrison.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Foreign Minister Florence Parly have unanimously stated that Australia’s view “raises the need for a clear definition of European independence.”
Paris, however, directed his anger at Washington.
“The idea of America, which has led to the withdrawal of its European counterpart and ally as France from a very important alliance with Australia at a time when we are experiencing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, either because of our beliefs or respect for international law, shows resilience. where France only knows and complains, “he said.
Le Drian later compared Biden’s management with Donald Trump’s successor. “This brutality, impartiality and unpredictability reminds me a lot of what Trump does,” he told Franceinfo radio. “This is not happening in the alliance.”
On Thursday, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said it was military officials who were advising the government to find nuclear-powered submarines.
“Ultimately, the decision we have made is in line with the interests of our national security and security and stability within the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
An agreement not signed in China, says the US
China also criticized AUKUS, which appears to want to overthrow Beijing’s power in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The nuclear deal between the US, the UK and Australia has severely disrupted peace in the region, intensified rivalry and weakened international efforts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on Thursday, calling for a “carefree” agreement. “.
Leaders in the US, UK and Australia have determined that submarines are powered by nuclear forces, not carrying nuclear weapons. Australia has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
At a US-Australian press conference on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated that the new security agreement is aimed at strengthening cooperation between the three countries.
“In the case of China, let me just emphasize that this alliance is not about anything or everyone,” Austin said.
For his part, Dutton rejected Chinese criticism. “This is not the first time China has witnessed a series of explosions in Australia,” he said. “We are a proud democracy in our area. We stand together with our Indo-Pacific neighbors to ensure lasting peace, and this partnership makes it a safer area. ”
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she and Dutton had negotiated with China in talks with US counterparts.
“That doesn’t mean there is no room for negotiations with China,” Payne said. “Australia continues to negotiate with China unnecessarily.”