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Top EU leader Charles Michel calls for 'transparency' after AUKUS sub deal

European Council President Charles Michel speaks at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
European Council President Charles Michel speaks at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- At the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, European Council President Charles Michel lobbed a veiled criticism of the U.S.-British agreement to provide Australia with submarine technology, saying there's been "a clear lack of transparency and loyalty."

The plan, announced Sept. 15, angered France because it effectively scuttled a similar multibillion dollar deal hat Paris had with Australia. In response, France recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.

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Earlier this week, Michel accused U.S. President Joe Biden of disloyalty to Europe for brokering the deal -- known by the acronym AUKUS, a combination of abbreviations for each country.

"The elementary principles for an alliance are loyalty and transparency," Michel said Monday. "We are observing a clear lack of transparency and loyalty.

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The EU leader hinted at this criticism again -- using almost the exact same wording -- during his remarks on Friday, the fourth day of the assembly's General Debate in New York City.

"We want a fairer and safer world," he said. "We want cooperation rather than confrontation, solidarity rather than isolation, transparency not secrecy, and we want loyalty, honoring our word when our word is given."

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As European Council president, Michel is the European Union's chief representative on international affairs.

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Earlier this month, Australian defense minister Peter Dutton drew attention to the "deteriorating" situation in the Indo-Pacific, saying alliances are the only way to defend international rules-based order.

Biden said the trilateral agreement with Britain and Australia represented a broader trend involving key countries, particularly in Europe, "playing an extremely important role in the Indo-Pacific."

Michel said the European Union is the an important trade partner in the Indo-Pacific, and noted that 40% of the bloc's trade transits there.

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"Freedom of navigation and security in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean need to be guaranteed," he said.

"In line with international law, the European Union stands ready to fully ready to shoulder its responsibility in that regard."

Michel was one of several leaders who spoke at the General Assembly on Friday, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

The General Debate runs through Monday.

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