Monday 18 October 2021 - 23:06

US Reportedly Wants UK to Do More to Repair Relations with France Amid AUKUS Deal Spat

Story Code : 959424
US Reportedly Wants UK to Do More to Repair Relations with France Amid AUKUS Deal Spat
The Guardian cited unnamed American diplomatic sources as claiming US diplomats had been angry over UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctance to do more to mend fences with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Johnson earlier voiced frustration about French complaints over the loss of the contract, saying "donnez moi un break [give me a break]".

This, however, was preceded by the prime minister stressing in mid-September that the UK was "very proud" of its relationship with France, which BoJo said was "of huge importance" to Britain.

One of the sources said that Washington "had hoped for a three-legged stool of Britain, Europe, and the US, but we are having to run more of a hub and spoke operation in which we reach out separately to democracies in Europe, UK, and Asia".

The insider expressed hope that the UK would start thinking more strategically about its relations with Europe.

Another source dubbed the handling of the Australian cancellation of the French contract on submarines "an unforced error". The insider added that there should have been a decent three-month interval before the announcement of the new security alliance between the UK, the US, and Australia.

The remarks came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, spent two days in France and Brussels as he was seeking to repair Washington's relations with Paris and Brussels in the wake of the submarine spat.

Blinken's visits followed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian telling reporters in September that "there is a crisis of trust beyond the fact that the contract is being broken, as if Europe itself didn't have any interest to defend in that region".

"The Europeans' fundamental interests need to be taken into account by the United States, which is our ally. And the Europeans shall not be left behind in the strategy chosen by the United States," Le Drian stressed, adding that European countries should "put together their own priorities and strategy" and discuss it with Washington.

Last month, the top French diplomat emphasised that Canberra abandoning the submarine deal that "has linked Australia and France since 2016" and the announcement of the AUKUS alliance "constitutes unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners, the consequences of which affect our very conception of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe".

He spoke as Paris withdrew its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra following the AUKUS announcement, in a move that was, however, followed by France agreeing to return its US Ambassador Philippe Etienne to Washington in early October.

In mid-September, the US, the UK, and Australia declared the formation of AUKUS as a platform for defence and security cooperation.

The announcement came as Canberra unilaterally withdrew from a $66 billion agreement with France's Naval Group on the delivery of 12 diesel submarines to Australia in favour of the supply of nuclear-powered vessels to the country within the framework of the AUKUS alliance. Le Drian was quick to call the cancellation of the Australian-French submarine contract a "stab in the back" and a "unilateral, brutal, unpredictable" action.