Australia prime minister says French president lacks credibility
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attacked the credibility of French President Emmanuel Macron amid escalating tensions between Canberra and Paris over a now-scuttled submarine deal.
An Australian newspaper cast doubt on U.S. President Joe Biden’s explanation to Macron last week that Biden thought the French had been informed long before the September announcement that their 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) submarine deal with Australia would be scrapped.
Macron this week accused Morrison of lying to him at a Paris dinner in June about the fate of a 5-year-old contract with majority French state-owned Naval Group to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
Australia canceled that deal when it formed an alliance with U.S. and Britain to acquire a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines built with U.S. technology.
Morrison told Australian reporters who had accompanied him to Glasgow, Scotland, for a U.N. climate conference that he made clear to Macron at their dinner in June that conventional submarines would not meet Australia’s evolving strategic needs.
Two days before Morrison, Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the nuclear submarine deal, Morrison attempted to phone Macron with the news, but the French leader texted back saying he was not available to take a call, The Australian newspaper reported.
French officials said their government had been blindsided by the contract cancellation, calling it a “stab in the back.”
Macron said this week the nuclear submarine deal was “very bad news for the credibility of Australia and very bad news for the trust that great partners can have with Australia.”
Morrison said Macron’s accusation of lying, which the prime minister denies, was a slur against Australia. Most Australian observers see it as a personal insult against Morrison.