“It’s really a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio.
“I’m very angry today, and bitter… This is not something allies do to each other,” he said.
“This sudden and unforeseeable decision very much recalls what Mr Trump would do,” Le Drian added, referring to the previous US president Donald Trump.
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US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a new defence pact with Australia and Britain that would see Canberra get a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, a privilege reserved for few American allies.
The move underscore increasing concerns about China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, where France is also looking to protect its interests that include the overseas territories of New Caledonia.
Defence Minister Florence Parly on Thursday called Australia’s about-face “very bad news with regards to keeping one’s word,” while adding that France is “clear-eyed as to how the United States treats its allies.”
“In terms of geopolitics and international relations, it’s serious,” she told RFI radio.