Oroville Mercury-Register

France recalls ambassador­s to US, Australia over sub deal

- By Sylvie Corbet

America’s oldest ally, France, recalled its ambassador to the United States on Friday in an unpreceden­ted show of anger that dwarfed decades of previous rifts.

The relationsh­ip conceived in 18th century revolution­s appeared at a tipping point after the U.S., Australia and Britain shunned France in creating a new Indo-Pacific security arrangemen­t.

It was the first time ever France has recalled its ambassador to the U.S., according to the French foreign ministry. Paris also recalled its envoy to Australia.

Foreign Minister JeanYves Le Drian said in a written statement that the French decision, on request from President Emmanuel Macron, “is justified by the exceptiona­l seriousnes­s of the announceme­nts” made by Australia and the United States.

He said Australia’s decision to scrap a big French convention­al submarine purchase in favor of nuclear subs built with U.S. technology is “unacceptab­le behavior between allies and partners.”

Ambassador Philippe Etienne tweeted the announceme­nts are “directly affecting the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnershi­ps and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.”

The Biden administra­tion has been in close contact with French officials about the decision to recall Etienne to Paris, National Security Council spokespers­on Emily Horne said.

“We understand their position and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our difference­s, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance,” she said in a statement. “France is our oldest ally and one of our strongest partners, and we share a long history of shared democratic values and a commitment to working together to address global challenges.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price also stressed the value the U.S. places on its relationsh­ip with France and expressed hope that talks between the two sides will continue in the coming days, including at the United Nations General Assembly next week.

Macron, however, for the first time since he came into office in 2017, won’t be making a speech to the annual meeting of world leaders. Le Drian will instead deliver the French address.

The decision to recall the ambassador represents a shocking turnaround for France under Macron, who — after an increasing­ly bitter relationsh­ip with former President Donald Trump — warmly clasped hands with Biden at a G-7 summit in June and confirmed that “America is back.”

Macron has not yet commented on the issue. The recall is his boldest foreign policy move yet in a fouryear presidency in which he has sought to strengthen France’s diplomatic footprint and role in European policy-making, and to rally France’s neighbors around his vision for a Europe less dependent on the U.S. military umbrella.

France has pushed for several years for a European strategy for boosting economic, political and defense ties in the region stretching from India and China to Japan and New Zealand. The EU this week unveiled its plan for the Indo-Pacific.

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