A phone call from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to French President Emmanuel Macron went unanswered, Morrison told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. “We will be patient,” Morrison said of the troubled relationship with France.
French President Macron is outraged by the AUKUS security pact between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, which has prevented the purchase of French submarines worth more than 30 billion euros. The French ambassadors to the US and Australia were recalled, and the French foreign minister spoke of “a stab in the back”.
US President Joe Biden had a phone call with his French counterpart on Wednesday, and the French ambassador will return to Washington next week. On Thursday, French and US foreign ministers will meet one-on-one again for the first time since the announcement of the security pact. The two saw each other on Wednesday during a meeting with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Morrison has not yet been able to call Macron, and the French ambassador’s post to Australia remains unmanned for the time being. “The time is not yet right,” said the Australian Prime Minister, reiterating that he was acting in Australia’s best interests.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson used less subtle words when addressing Macron on Wednesday: “Donnez-moi un break,” he told reporters. Morrison said he “doesn’t speak French” but was amused by the British Prime Minister’s statement.
The leaders of the three AUKUS countries previously explained that their pact is intended to guarantee security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. This drew criticism from China, which in response accused the US, Great Britain and Australia of having a “Cold War mentality”. Biden reiterated on Wednesday the importance of French and European presence in the Asia-Pacific region.