A meeting between France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace has been canceled, a source at her ministry told AFP Sunday. A strategic partnership between Australia, US and the UK has led to a full blown diplomatic crisis with France, ever since it was announced that US nuclear submarines will be supplied to Australia.
A French and Australian representative will not meet in London this week after the French cancelled the meeting. Australia’s decision to tear up a contract to buy French submarines in favor of American nuclear-powered vessels sparked outrage in Paris last week. The French president recalled France’s ambassadors in Canberra and Washington.
Sources at the Ministry of Defence in London declined to confirm or deny the cancellation of the meeting, but added: ‘The UK is still in discussion with our French counterparts about the meetings’. France remains a trusted ally of the UK, and we continue to work with France on many equipment and operational domains. The French contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia was worth Aus$50 billion ($36 billion, 31 billion euros) when signed in 2016.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the snub to France as a ‘stab in the back’. US President Joe Biden’s administration had behaved similarly to that of Donald Trump, whose sudden policy changes had long aggravated European allies, he continued. The British government has been lying, cheating, and deceiving, he said on France 2 TV on Saturday. Le Drian described Britain as a ‘third wheel’ in the US-Anglo-Australian alliance.