EU rallies behind France as dispute over AUKUS worsens

New York: The European Union leaders are rallying behind President Emmanuel Macron in the dispute over the shelving of a multi-billion-dollar deal by Australia to buy 12 French diesel-electric submarines.

Canberra’s decision to sign up to a trilateral Asia Pacific security pact, known as AUKUS, with the US and Britain is seen as an ‘act of betrayal’ by French officials.

Speaking after a recent meeting among EU foreign ministers held in New York on the sidelines of this week’s annual gathering for the United Nations General Assembly, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the foreign ministers “expressed clear solidarity with France”.

Borrell chided Washington and London saying, “More cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation” was needed among Western powers in the Indo-Pacific region where China is the major rising power and is promoting alarm among its neighbors.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN, “One of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable. We want to know what happened and why.”

Under the new security partnership unveiled on September 15, Canberra will build nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology.

Back in 2016, Australia signed a contract with France for the purchase of 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.

On September 16, Australia announced that it planned to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from the US and the UK.

Outraged by the abrupt move without notice, France recalled its Ambassadors to the US and Australia.

Upset over AUKUS, Macron dials Modi

New Delhi: French President Emmanuel Macron telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region against the backdrop of France’s anger over the creation of a new security alliance by Australia, the UK, and the US.

Modi tweeted after the call that he and Macron had discussed “closer collaboration between India and France in the Indo-Pacific” and the situation in Afghanistan. “We place great value on our Strategic Partnership with France, including in the UNSC,” the prime minister said.

A readout from the French president’s office said the two leaders “reaffirmed their shared commitment to act jointly in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”, with this approach aimed at promoting “regional stability and the rule of law while precluding any form of hegemony”.

India has publicly sought to distance itself from AUKUS because of its strong strategic relations with Australia, France, and the US.

Image courtesy of (credit: Wikipedia)

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