French President Emmanuel Macron said on Oct. 31 that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him about the cancelled $90 billion submarine deal, increasing diplomatic tensions.
When Australian broadcaster ABC asked Macron on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Rome if he thought Morrison had lied to him over the submarine contract, Macron responded, “I don’t think. I know.”
Last September, Morrison cancelled the decade-old contract with France to build a new fleet of submarines and revealed that he had been in secret dialog with the United States and the United Kingdom to acquire nuclear-powered submarines in a contract known as the AUKUS deal.
Macron told ABC that the AUKUS deal was not only “very bad news for France,” but was also “a very bad news for credibility of Australia and a very bad news for the trust that great partners can have with the Australians.”
“I think this is detrimental to the reputation of your country and your Prime Minister,” Macron added.
Morrison rejected Macron’s accusation in a press conference minutes after Macron made the remarks.
“I explained very clearly that the conventional submarine option was not going to meet Australia’s interests,” Morrison told journalists.
“I was very clear that what was going to be provided to us was not going to meet our strategic interests, and there was still a process we were engaged in, and we then engaged in, over the months that followed. And then we communicated to him our ultimate decision,” Morrison further said.
Morrison suggested that he discussed the matter with Macron during a private dinner months earlier.
Morrison also said that the French government was aware that Australia was considering other options.
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