“Unprecedented New Low”: France Over Leaked Macron’s Text to Australian PM

Emmanuel Macron sent messages to Australian PM Scott Morrison which were leaked.

Sydney:

The French ambassador in Canberra said on Wednesday that the Australia-France row over the collapse of a submarine deal had reached an “unprecedented new low” after a text message from the French president to Australia’s leader was leaked.

Emmanuel Macron sent a message to Prime Minister Scott Morrison two days before Australia announced that it had broken a decades-old multi-billion dollar contract with France to build a new fleet of submarines.

Paris reacted furiously, and Macron sparked an uproar over the weekend by accusing Morrison of lying, a charge dismissed by the Australian.

In a fiery speech on Wednesday, French ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thébault said the leak of the private text was an “unprecedented new low”.

“You don’t treat partner leaders like this on personal exchanges. But maybe it’s just a confirmation that we were never seen as allies,” he told Australia’s National Press Club.

“Doing so sends a very worrying signal to all heads of state: be careful, in Australia, there will be a leak.

“And what you tell your allies in confidence will eventually one day be used and a weapon against you.”

In the message, Macron asked Morrison: “Should I expect good or bad news for our combined submarine ambitions?”

Reports said the leak may have been done in retaliation for an allegation of “lying” by Morrison’s office.

‘Proof of Love’

Australia announced in mid-September that it was abandoning French diesel submarines in favor of nuclear-powered submarines as it joined a new defense alliance with Britain and the United States, dubbed AUKUS.

The agreement is widely seen as an attempt to counter the growing Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Thebault said the suggestion that Canberra had communicated dissent with French conventional submarines was “hypothetical”, adding that Paris could not be expected to explain the “vague approach”.

He pointed to an August joint communiqué that outlined the importance of the sub-deal – just two weeks before it was torn down – that “the fraud was intentional”.

Thebault, who was briefly recalled to Paris over the dispute, said it was now “up to Australia” to suggest ways to mend damaged ties.

“We will not buy on promises of love. Love is good. But the proof of love is much better,” he said.

Speaking to Australian reporters in Dubai, Morrison attempted to draw a line under the episode, saying it was time to “move on”.

“I don’t think anyone else will benefit from going down this path,” he said. “Claims were made and claims were denied, what is needed now is that we all work on it.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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