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France knew of Australia’s grave concerns: Australia's PM

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he “understands France’s disappointment”. File   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday he understood France's disappointment over Canberra's cancellation of a submarine deal in favour of a pact with the United States and Britain but that Australia needed to protect its interests.

Also read: Australian PM says he made clear to France possibility of scrapping submarine deal

"Of course it's a matter of great disappointment to the French government, so I understand their disappointment.

But at the same time, Australia like any sovereign nation must always take decisions that are in our sovereign national defence interest," Mr. Morrison told a press briefing.

France would have known Australia had “deep and grave concerns” that a submarine fleet the French were building would not meet Australian needs, Mr. Morrison said.

U.S. President Joe Biden revealed last week a new alliance, including Australia and Britain that would deliver an Australian fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr. Morrison blamed the switch on a deteriorating strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific. He has not specifically referred to China’s massive military buildup, which has gained pace in recent years.

“The capability that the Attack class submarines were going to provide was not what Australia needed to protect our sovereign interests,” Mr. Morrison said.

“They would have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns that the capability being delivered by the Attack class submarine was not going to meet our strategic interests and we have made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest,” he added, referring to the French government. Mr. Morrison has said the contract cancellation will cost his government at least AU$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion).

France responded to the contract cancellation by recalling its Ambassadors from Australia and the U.S.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 8:47:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/aukus-australias-pm-understands-frances-disappointment-over-submarine-deal/article36547388.ece

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