France, Australia open ‘new start’ in relations after submarine row

Paris, Jul 1 (EFE).- France and Australia opened on Friday a new chapter in their relations after a row over a secret submarine contract last year deteriorated relations between the two countries.

“It is a relationship founded on mutual respect, after a difficult phase, but which is established on a strategic and historic partnership,” French president Emmanuel Macron told a joint press conference following a meeting with Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

“My presence here following the invitation of the president represents a new start for our countries’ relationship,” Albanese said.

“France is a long standing and valued partner for Australia and I appreciate the warm welcome that I have received here,” the prime minister added.

Bilateral relations between Paris and Canberra hit a low last year when in September, Australia canceled a 90 billion Australian dollar ($62 billion) contract for French-made diesel electric submarines in favor of a deal with the United Kingdom and United States for US-powered submarines.

France, which accused former prime minister Scott Morrison of signing the deal behind its back, temporarily withdrew its ambassadors from the US and Australia in response to the move.

Shortly after coming to power in May this year, Albanese announced his government would pay a 555-million-euro ($583 million) compensation to the French state-owned company Naval Group for breaching the contract.

“Australia’s relationship with France matters. Trust, respect and honesty matter, this is how I will approach my relations,” Albanese said. EFE


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