EU foreign ministers were due to meet in New York on Monday night to discuss the outcome of the Ocus agreement amid French fury.
France denied that it had canceled EU trade talks with Australia over Canberra’s decision to abandon the multi-billion dollar submarine contract with the French Navy in favor of a deal with the UK and US.
However, EU ministers were set to discuss the implications of the new security agreement between the three Anglophone countries on upcoming trade talks with Australia. The meeting will take place in New York as leaders and foreign ministers gather for the United Nations General Assembly.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in New York called for a “serious reflection” about the country’s approach to the coalition after the Auks deal caused a “break of trust” in the international partnership. Mr Le Drian said he had canceled a meeting with his Australian counterpart “for obvious reasons”.
French Defense Secretary Florence Parly postponed a meeting with her UK counterpart Ben Wallace, which was due to take place on Thursday, defense sources confirmed.
Mr Wallace sought to downplay suggestions of a rift between the two countries, saying they were “in the hip” on issues such as “complex weapons, counter-terrorism, both West and East Africa” and the Middle East. He added that there was “no trickery behind the back” in planning the Ocus.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Wallace said Australia had exercised its “right to choose” by partnering with the UK and US.
In New York, Boris Johnson stated that the Ocus Treaty was not designed to be “exclusion”.
“It’s not something, I don’t think, that anyone needs to worry about – and especially not our French friends,” he said.
He said: “Between the UK and France, I believe there is a very important and indestructible relationship.
France did not take measures to withdraw the ambassadors from Britain. France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune previously described Britain as a “vassal” state of the US and a “junior partner” in UK-US relations.
Downing Street dismissed allegations that Mr Johnson was “rubbing Macron’s nose into it” by meeting Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the US.
Asked whether the UK would “respond” to comments made by French ministers about the Aux deal, the No 10 spokesman said: “I am not aware of any such plans.
“We would like to work constructively with our French counterparts.”
Some officials in Brussels interpreted the US-led agreement as a warning that the US has not completely deviated from Donald Trump’s foreign policy approach.
“The Ocus Agreement is a case in point: it shows that there is some continuity in the ‘America First’ approach despite changes in administration in the US,” said an EU diplomat.
“The United States is not exiting Europe. However, America’s focus has clearly shifted to China and the Indo-Pacific region. One of the consequences of this change is that Europe has to do more to defend itself. Gotta do it.”
The White House said Joe Biden would call on Emmanuel Macron to “reaffirm” the US commitment to France in the coming days.
The call was requested by the US and would be the first discussion between the two leaders since the announcement of the Aukus, which led to France withholding its ambassadors from the US and Australia and marking the 240th anniversary of a joint French-American naval victory. Canceled an event to mark in. over Britain.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /