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France Recalls Its Ambassadors to the US and Australia after AUKUS Announcement

France AUKUS
French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled France’s ambassadors to the United States and Australia in response to AUKUS. Credit: Remy Juan, CC BY-SA

French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled France’s ambassadors to the United States and Australia in response to the AUKUS alliance between the two countries and the United Kingdom.

Macron is recalling the ambassadors in retaliation against Biden’s announcement of the US and UK’s plan to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines, a decision he made without consulting the French president.

“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately recall our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia to Paris for consultations,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign minister. “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”

This act by Macron intensifies an already heated move by the US, as Biden aims to signal dominance to China on the international stage. Le Drain also clarified that the ambassadors would be going directly back to Paris– a drastic diplomatic measure that clearly signifies that a significant break between the countries has formed. Le Drain also said that France perceived AUKUS as a betrayal of trust.

A crucial aspect of the AUKUS alliance is Australia backing out of a $90 billion submarine deal with France in order to move forward with nuclear-powered submarines. The severity of Le Drain’s language and Macron’s actions suggest that this disagreement will have a lasting effect on the relationships between all countries involved.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared to minimize the impact of France’s announcement:

“We cooperate closely with France on shared priorities both in the Indo-Pacific region and we’ll continue to do so here in the Security Council,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “Good friends have disagreements, but that’s the nature of friendship and that’s — because you’re friends, you can have disagreement and continue to work on those areas of cooperation.”

She added: “We will continue to work with our French colleagues on areas of cooperation and address any tensions in our relationship, but we don’t see those tensions changing the nature of our friendship.”

France recalls ambassadors after Biden’s bold AUKUS announcement

These diplomatic maneuverings are part of a larger movement headed by Biden to counter China’s growing international power. Biden hopes that working with other nations will strengthen the global position against China. But in doing so, he has potentially lost an ally in France.

The US, UK and Australia will hold meetings over the next months to discuss cyber security, developing technologies, and defense. The AUKUS alliance hopes to strengthen the nations ability to engage with contemporary security threats.

Although the three nations explicitly stated that their partnership is not specifically about China, Biden has made it clear that countering China’s autocracy with democracy is one of the primary goals of his foreign policy.

AUKUS believes that suppling Australia with nuclear submarines will give the country the ability to function at a more advanced military level. Nuclear submarines are capable of moving at faster speeds and withstanding greater amounts of stress than standard submarines.

The US and the UK are working together to form teams capable of helping Australia obtain nuclear submarines within the next 18 months. The new plan is at the expense of Australia’s $90 billion deal with France for normal submarines.

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