Australia tries to calm bust-up with France over submarine deal

The Morrison Government has been accused of betrayal for ditching the $90 billion French agreement.

Australia tries to calm bust-up with France over submarine deal

The Federal Government has responded to France's decision to recall its ambassadors to Australia and the US.

Earlier today, France said it was immediately withdrawing its envoys to Australia and the US after Australia scrapped a big French conventional submarine purchase in favour of nuclear subs built with US technology.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who was ending an official visit to the US, said Australia understood the "disappointment" of the French Government.


"We note with regret France's decision to recall its ambassador to Australia for consultations following the decision on the Attack class project.

"Australia understands France's deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests.

"Australia values its relationship with France, which is an important partner and a vital contributor to stability, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. This will not change."

Ms Payne's spokesman said that Australia and France share many issues of interest and "we look forward to engaging with France again".

Earlier today, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves 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 Wednesday's announcement of Australia's submarine deal with the US is "unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners."


Earlier on Friday (France time), a top French diplomat spoke of a "crisis" in relations with the US.

The diplomat, who spoke anonymously in line with customary government practice, said that for Paris "this is a strategic question concerning the very nature of the relationship between Europe and the United States about the Indo-Pacific strategy."

He would not speculate on the effects the situation would have on France's relationship with the US. "There's a crisis," he stressed.

Mr Macron has not commented on the issue since President Joe Biden's announcement of a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Britain, leading France to lose a nearly $90 billion deal to build diesel-electric submarines.

The French diplomat said on Friday that Mr Macron received a letter from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday morning announcing the decision to cancel the submarine deal.


French officials then decided to reach out to the US administration "to ask what was going on," he said. He added that discussions with Washington took place just two to three hours before Mr Biden's public announcement.

Mr Le Drian on Thursday expressed "total incomprehension" at the move and criticized both Australia and the U.S.

"It was really a stab in the back. We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed," he said. "This is not done between allies."

He also compared Mr Biden's move to those of his predecessor, Donald Trump, under Trump's "America First" doctrine.

The French diplomat said Australia never mentioned to France before its will to shift to nuclear-powered submarines, including during a meeting between Mr Macron and Mr Morrison in Paris on June 15.

Source : 9 News More   

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Police confront Melbourne lockdown protesters

Anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne are defying police warnings and are staging demonstrations in the city today.

Police confront Melbourne lockdown protesters

Police have deployed capsicum spray during rowdy anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne.

The protesters are defying warnings and are staging demonstrations in the city today, throwing what appear to be flares and smoke bombs at police.

Hundreds of demonstrators - many not wearing masks - have gathered in the inner suburb of Richmond in a move apparently designed to avoid police.

Earlier today Victoria Police set up checkpoints aimed at keeping them out of the CBD.


Images showed some demonstrators being chased by police and held by officers.

Travel to and from Melbourne's CBD by public transport and car was halted to prevent anti-lockdown protesters from gathering in the CBD.

But protest organisers switched the time and location of the rally from 12pm in the city centre, reports.

Instead they switched it to 10am at Richmond and began gathering at about midday outside the Richmond Town Hall.

Hundreds marched in the centre of the road chanting "no more lockdown" and "sack Dan Andrews".

Some held banners with the words 'No more lockdown'.


Others shouted the mental health toll on people was too great.

Most were not wearing masks.

Until 2pm today, no trains, trams and buses will be running to central Melbourne. Services are terminating at suburban stations.

There is a limited shuttle bus service running from key locations for residents who are permitted to travel.

More than 2000 police officers have been deployed to stop and deter the protesters.

This is a developing story.

Source : 9 News More   

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