France began doubting Australia’s commitment to a $US40 billion submarine order in June and President Emmanuel Macron was only informed by Canberra of the deal’s collapse in writing hours before it was announced, a French presidency official said.
The official said there had been no hint of the contract cancellation when Macron met Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Paris in mid-June, shortly after a meeting of G7 leaders in Britain.
“We started hearing echoes of Australian concerns about the execution of the contract from June,” the Elysee Palace official told Reuters on Monday.
Australia said last week it was cancelling the contract for conventional submarines from France and would instead build at nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology after striking a security partnership with those countries.
Canberra’s move enraged Paris, triggering an unprecedented diplomatic crisis that analysts say could do lasting damage to US alliances with France and Europe. It has also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.