Asia/Pacific

Australian official says prime minister didn’t lie to Macron during submarine deal negotiations

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A top Australian official is rejecting claims that the nation’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, lied to French President Emmanuel Macron during negotiations for a submarine deal with the U.S. and the U.K., reports The Associated Press.

When asked to respond to Macron’s statements about Australia’s negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said “we didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower,” according to the AP.

Joyce also noted that contracts have “terms and conditions,” adding that Australia “got out of that contract” with France.  

When reporters asked Macron on Sunday if he thought Morrison had lied to him about the submarine deal, Macron answered, “I don’t think, I know.”

These accusations have created tension between the two nations.

Australia was negotiating with France for a submarine deal worth $40 billion, but Australia pulled from the deal with France and instead opted for one with the U.S. that supplied nuclear-powered submarines.

The submarine deal caused France to halt its trade talks with its Pacific ally in late September and to pull its ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia. 

“I don’t understand how it was possible to commit such a lie. I don’t understand how people, several of whom I know, were capable of lying to me … face to face for 18 months,” French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault said in an interview in October.

While meeting with Macron in Italy last week, President Biden admitted that the way the U.S. handled the negotiations with France was “clumsy.” 

Updated at 9:48 a.m.

 

Tags Australia Australian submarine deal Canberra Emmanuel Macron France French President Emmanuel Macron International relations Joe Biden Nuclear submarine Scott Morrison
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