A meeting between France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace scheduled for this week has been canceled, according to a source in her ministry.
The action comes after the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom provoked a full-fledged diplomatic crisis with France by declaring a strategic cooperation in which the US will supply nuclear submarines to Australia, thus excluding France.
According to the ministry source, the “conference planned for this week in London… will not take place due to the French cancellation.”
Last week, France was outraged by Australia’s decision to cancel a contract to buy French submarines in favor of American nuclear-powered vessels.
French President Emmanuel Macron has summoned France’s ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented step.
“The UK continues in communication with our French counterparts about the meetings,” a Ministry of Defence source said in London, adding that they couldn’t confirm or deny the meeting’s cancellation.
“We continue to have a strong and close defense collaboration with France because they are reliable allies of the UK, and we continue to engage with them in a variety of equipment and operational sectors.”
When the contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia was signed in 2016, it was worth Aus$50 billion ($36.5 billion, 31 billion euros).
The snub to France, according to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, is a “stab in the back.”
He went on to say that US President Joe Biden’s administration had behaved similarly to Donald Trump’s, whose abrupt policy shifts had long irritated European partners.
On Saturday, Le Drian told France 2 television that “there has been lying, duplicity, a significant breach of trust, and disrespect.”
He regarded Britain as the “third wheel” in the US-Anglo-Australian alliance.