A submarine deal between the United States, Britain, and Australia offended a French official so deeply he called off a high-level military meeting.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly canceled his bilateral meeting with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. The pair was supposed to discuss the two-day Franco-British Council with defence chiefs from both countries.
However, the event was postponed after the AUKUS military alliance was formed to counter Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expansion into the South China Sea.
The pact means Australia will receive international assistance in developing nuclear-powered submarines. It comes at the expense of Paris’s $40 billion submarine deal with the Land Down Under.
The canceled deal has angered French authorities.
“This is not an Australian attitude towards France and maybe we are not friends,” French ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault said according to the Guardian. “There was a complete other project that we discovered, thanks to the press, one hour before the announcement so you can imagine our anger–we felt fooled.”
Former British national security adviser and co-chairman Peter Ricketts confirmed the event has been rescheduled for a future date according to the Guardian. It is unclear exactly when the meeting will take place.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to deescalate diplomatic tension.
“Our love of France is ineradicable,” he said according to Reuters. “We are very, very proud of our relationship with France, and it is of huge importance to this country. It is a very friendly relationship–an entente cordial–that goes back a century or more and it absolutely vital for us.”
Paris earlier summoned envoys from Washington and Canberra for diplomatic talks at the weekend.
Sources revealed Australia was torn on how to cancel its submarine deal with France.
“Some Australians wanted to ring up one week and say we are so sorry … [because] we found a better submarine–and it is British,” a UK defence source said according to the Guardian. “There was another school of thought that said: do not do it like that. They will see through it, and it will be worse because it will look duplicitous.”
Conservative British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a United Nations security council meeting on Sept. 21.