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Angry France says Biden acted like Trump to sink Australian deal

Angry France says Biden acted like Trump to sink Australian deal
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a news conference on Sep 10, 2021. Jens Schlueter/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS: France accused US President Joe Biden of stabbing it in the back and acting like his predecessor Donald Trump after Paris was pushed aside from one of the world's most lucrative defence deals that it had signed with Australia for submarines.

The United States, Britain and Australia said earlier they would establish a security partnership for the Indo-Pacific that will help Australia acquire US nuclear-powered submarines and scrap the US$40 billion French-designed submarine deal.

"This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on franceinfo radio.

"It's a break in trust and I am extremely angry."

Australia in 2016 selected French shipbuilder Naval Group to build a new submarine fleet worth US$40 billion to replace its more than two-decades-old Collins submarines.

Just two weeks ago, the Australian defence and foreign ministers had reconfirmed the deal to their French counterparts.

But the deal has been beset by issues and delays due to Canberra's requirement that the majority of the manufacturing and components be sourced locally.

Perhaps anticipating Paris' reaction, Biden said on Wednesday (Sep 15) night that France remained a "key partner in the Indo-Pacific zone". 

Source: Reuters/vc

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