Amid submarine row, meeting between France and United Kingdom called off: Report

A meeting between France's Defense Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace scheduled for this week has been cancelled, according to a source in her ministry. The decision comes after the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom caused a full-fledged diplomatic crisis with France by declaring a strategic alliance in which the US will supply nuclear submarines to Australia, essentially excluding France. The "meeting planned for this week in London... will not take place owing to the French cancellation," according to a ministry source.

Also Read | Australia signs deal to get nuke submarines with US, UK help; France reacts

Last week, fury in Paris erupted over Australia's decision to cancel a contract to acquire French submarines in favour of American nuclear-powered boats. According to a ministry source, the "meeting planned for this week in London will not take place owing to the French cancellation."  In an unusual move, French President Emmanuel Macron summoned France's ambassadors to Canberra and Washington. "We continue to have a strong and close defence cooperation with France, as they remain reliable allies of the UK," the source continued. "We continue to collaborate with France in various sorts of equipment and operational areas." "The UK remains in conversation with our French counterparts about the meetings," a Ministry of Defence source said in London. 

Also Read | France slams Australia's surprising nuclear deal, calls it 'stab in the back'

When the deal to deliver conventional submarines to Australia was signed in 2016, Aus valued $50 billion ($36.5 billion, 31 billion euros). According to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the snub to France is a "stab in the back." He went on to say that US President Joe Biden's administration had behaved similarly to Donald Trump's, whose abrupt policy shifts had long irritated European friends. On Saturday, Le Drian told France 2 television that "there has been lying, duplicity, a huge violation of trust, and disdain." He described Britain as the "third wheel" in the US-Anglo-Australian alliance.



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