PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron told Australia’s prime minister that he had broken the trust between their two countries and that it was up to Canberra to repair relations with “tangible actions,” the Elysee said on Thursday.
France has accused its allies of stabbing it in the back when Australia opted for nuclear-powered submarines to be built with U.S. and British technology instead of a multi-billion- dollar French submarine programme.
While France has sought to mend fences with Washington, with Macron meeting U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday in Rome, it had frozen its contacts with Australia.
“Australia’s unilateral decision to scale back the French-Australian strategic partnership by putting an end to the ocean-class submarine programme in favour of another as-yet unspecified project broke the relationship of trust between our two countries,” Macron told Prime Minister Scott Morrison, according to the Elysee.
The call between Macron and Morrison, who will both attend a G-20 summit in Rome later this week, is the first time the two leaders have spoken since France was informed by letter that Canberra was scrapping the 2016 submarine deal.
“It is now up to the Australian Government to propose tangible actions that embody the political will of Australia’s highest authorities to redefine the basis of our bilateral relationship and continue joint action in the Indo-Pacific,” the Elysee said.
In the call on Thursday, which came ahead of a U.N. climate change summit next week, Macron also urged Morrison to commit to halting coal mining and the use of coal for power production.
Australia, long under fire as one of world’s top producers of coal and gas, has pledged to target net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but will not legislate the goal, and instead, relies on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough and Bernadette Baum)