1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull standing on the deck of HMAS Waller, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy, at Garden Island in Sydney
French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull standing on the deck of HMAS Waller, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy, at Garden Island in SydneyImage: Brendan Eposito/POOL/AFP
PoliticsFrance

France recalls ambassadors from the US and Australia

September 17, 2021

The move came after Australia broke off a submarine deal with France to buy nuclear-powered subs from the US. The White House said it regrets France's decision.

https://p.dw.com/p/40Tn8

The French government on Friday announced it would recall its envoys from the United States and Australia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the decision was requested by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

The move came after Australia on Thursday broke off a submarine deal worth at least $40 billion (€34 billion) with France to build diesel-electric submarines to instead buy nuclear-powered ones from the US. 

What did France say?

In a written statement, Le Drian emphasized the French decision "is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements."

The French government has expressed anger at the US-Australia deal, which also includes the UK. Macron has not commented on the issue since US President Joe Biden made the announcement Wednesday.  

The recalling of France's ambassadors to the US and Australia, close allies is unprecedented. 

How has Washington responded?

The White House said Friday that it regrets France's decision, but that will work to resolve the major diplomatic spat.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Ned Price called France "a vital partner and our oldest ally," saying that high-level talks would likely take place during the UN General Assembly meeting next week.

While China was not mentioned in his announcement of the defense alliance, Biden did speak of "rapidly evolving threats" as a reason for the so-called AUKUS alliance of Australia, the UK and the US. 

The French Embassy in Washington also called off a gala to celebrate bilateral ties at its ambassador's house that had been scheduled for Friday.

An American Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine
Under the new defense alliance, Australia will now acquire nuclear-powered US submarinesImage: Navy Office of Information/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Why did Australia break off the deal?

Australia's Foreign Ministry said Canberra regrets France's move to recall its ambassador, but said it would continue to work with France on other issues.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the damage to bilateral ties with France but insisted he told French President Emmanuel Macron of Australia's plans in June over a lengthy dinner in Paris.

Morrison told an Australian radio station the choice was made in "the new strategic environment we're faced with."

France has pushed for years for a collective European political, economic and military strategy for the Pacific region. This week, the EU unveiled its plans for the Indo-Pacific. 

ar/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

Skip next section Related topics
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A home and car destroyed by Russian missiles in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region

Ukraine updates: Russia unleashes fatal missile barrage

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage