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France recalls U.S., Australian ambassadors over submarine deal

France recalls U.S., Australian ambassadors over submarine deal
French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne was recalled back to France along with the French ambassador to Australia on Friday. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- French President Emmanuel Macron recalled his ambassador to the United States on Friday in response to the United States and Britain's deal to share submarine technology with Australia.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's minister for Europe and foreign affairs, confirmed he and Macron called Ambassador Philippe Etienne back home. They also recalled French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Th├ębault.

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"This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15th September by Australia and the United States," Le Drian said in a statement.

The United States, Britain and Australia announced a trilateral security partnership Wednesday, stating its first major initiative will be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia. The vessel will not include nuclear weapons.

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"The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe," Le Drian said of the new agreement.

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The agreement killed a multibillion-dollar deal Australia had with France. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied French accusations that Paris wasn't warned about the possibility of a new deal.

"I made it very clear, we had a lengthy dinner there in Paris, about our very significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment we're faced with," Morrison told 5AA radio in Adelaide.

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