France: Australia leaking Macron texts a ‘new low’
France says that Australia’s leak of a text message from French President Emmanuel Macron to the media was a “new low.”
Jean-Pierre Thebault, France’s ambassador to Australia, made the comment during an address to the National Press Club of Australia, during which he addressed the issue of Australia dropping its submarine deal with France.
“This is an unprecedented new low, in terms of how to proceed and also in terms of truth and trust,” Thebault said of the leaked text message, according to The Associated Press.
“Doing so … sends a very worrying signal for all heads of state: Beware, in Australia there will be leaks and what you say in confidence to your partners will be eventually used and weaponized against you,” he continued.
Macron told reporters last weekend that Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison lied about the deal. Morrison subsequently told local media outlets that he relayed to Macron in June that France’s submarines would not meet Australia’s needs.
Morrison said he reached out to Macron via text message two days before the new deal with the U.S. and U.K. was announced, but Macron said he was unable to take a call.
“Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarines ambitions?” Macron reportedly said in the text message.
France has lashed out at Australia for its trilateral partnership with the United Kingdom and United States, under which the latter two countries would help Australia acquire nuclear submarines. The deal essentially threw out a previous deal that France secured with Australia for submarines.
Speaking to reporters in Rome on Friday, President Biden acknowledged that the way the deal was handled was “clumsy.”
“I think what happened was, to use an English phrase, what we did was clumsy,” Biden said. “It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened.”
Thebault asserted that the deal was a “stab in the back,” the AP reported.
“The deceit was intentional,” he said. “The way it was handled was plainly a stab in the back.”