Posted on Sep 19, 2021
Australia defended its scrapping of a deal for French submarines on Sunday, saying the government had raised concerns to Paris for months, as a new deal with the United States and Britain continued to fuel a multinational diplomatic crisis, Reuters reports.
"I don't regret the decision to put Australia's national interest first," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australia ditched the 2016 deal with France's Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines, announcing on Thursday a plan to build at least eight nuclear-powered ones with U.S. and British technology in a trilateral security partnership.
The move infuriated France, a NATO ally of the United States and Britain, prompting it to recall its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra.
Morrison said he understood France's disappointment over the cancellation of the order - valued at $40 billion in 2016 and reckoned to cost much more today - but reiterated that Australia must always take decisions in its best interest.
"This is an issue that had been raised by me directly some months ago and we continued to talk those issues through, including by defence ministers and others," Morrison told a briefing.
Australia's Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the country had been "upfront, open and honest" with France about its concerns.
"Suggestions that the concerns hadn't been flagged by the Australian government, just defy, frankly, what's on the public record and certainly what they've said publicly over a long period of time," Dutton told Sky News.
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