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US, UK discussed nuclear sub pact with Australia behind Macron’s back: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The G7 leaders attend summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, south-west England, 11 June 2021. (Photo by AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron was reportedly kept in the dark as the United States and Britain discussed a major security partnership pact with Australia, known as AUKUS, during the G7 summit earlier this year, torpedoing Canberra’s multi-billion-dollar submarine contract with Paris.

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed the details of the nuclear submarine accord on the sidelines of the summit that was held in South West England in June, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

According to the report, all documents on the pact were classified as "top secret" after the summit.

The trio presented the deal as a defense pact this week, instantly drawing condemnation from France and China that accused the West of a “cold war mentality.”

The partnership agreement has been viewed as an effort to counter China.

Under the new pact, Washington will share technology for building nuclear-powered submarines with its Australian allies. 

France expressed outrage over the deal, which brought the country’s 2016 submarine contract with Australia to an abrupt end.

The move, which Paris called a “stab in the back," sparked outrage in France and prompted Elysee Palace to recall its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra on Friday.

The Telegraph report said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab assisted in the preparation of the nuclear pact despite warnings that such a deal will harm relations with China and France.

Paris accused longtime allies Canberra and Washington of lying over a security pact.

"There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “This will not do.”

Citing a French official, NBC News reported that the French first learned of the pact through an article leaked in the Australian press Wednesday morning, prompting Paris to immediately ask the US for an explanation.

The US, however, did not provide details to France of the deal until hours before the announcement.

On Sunday, Australia's Prime Minister Morrison rejected the accusations of having lied to France, saying he had raised concerns over the deal "some months ago.”

"I think they would have had every reason to know that we had deep and grave concerns that the capability being delivered by the Attack Class submarine was not going to meet our strategic interests and we made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest," he said.

Morrison said he understood Paris’ disappointment, but added, “don’t regret the decision to put Australia's national interest first. Never will."

Australian Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that the government had informed Paris "at the earliest available opportunity before it became public."

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, also complained on Thursday that Brussels was kept out of the loop on the AUKUS partnership.

“We regret not having being informed, not having been part of these talks,” said Borrell. “I understand how disappointed the French government will be.”

European Council chief Charles Michel said on Twitter that the AUKUS pact only “demonstrates the need for a common EU approach in a region of strategic interest.”

He said the EU leaders would discuss the alliance at a meeting in October.


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