Australia had ‘deep concerns’
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday the French government would have known Canberra had "deep and grave concerns" about French submarines before the deal was torn up last week.
France is furious at Australia's decision to withdraw from a multibillion-dollar deal to build French submarines in favour of American nuclear-powered vessels, recalling its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington and accusing its allies of "lying" about their plans.
Morrison said he understood the French government's "disappointment" but said he had raised issues with the deal "some months ago", as had other Australian government ministers.
"I think they would have had every reason to know that we had deep and grave concerns that the capability being delivered by the Attack Class submarine was not going to meet our strategic interests and we made very clear that we would be making a decision based on our strategic national interest," he told a press conference in Sydney.
Morrison said it would have been "negligent" to proceed with the deal against intelligence and defence advice and that doing so would be counter to Australia's strategic interests.
Speaking to Sky News Australia earlier yesterday, Defence Minister Peter Dutton said his government had been "upfront, open and honest" with France that it had concerns about the deal, which was over-budget and years behind schedule.
A French government spokesman said yesterday that US President Joe Biden and President Emmanuel Macron will talk on the phone in the coming days amid high tension over the tripartite submarines contract signed among Australia, US and UK, reports AFP.
"There will be an exchange on the phone in the coming days," spokesman Gabriel Attal told the BFM news channel, adding that the request for the converation had come from Biden.