PARIS (AP) – The United States’ longest-serving ally, France, recalled its ambassador to the United States on Friday in an unprecedented outburst of anger that has eclipsed decades of previous divisions.
The relationship conceived in the 18th-century revolutions came at a turning point after the United States, Australia, and Britain avoided France by creating a new Indo-Pacific security accord.
It was the first time that France recalled its ambassador to the United States, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Paris also recalled its envoy to Australia.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a written statement that the French decision, at the request of President Emmanuel Macron, “is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements” made by Australia and the United States.
He said Australia’s decision to abandon a large purchase of French conventional submarines in favor of nuclear submarines built with American technology was “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners”.
Ambassador Philippe Etienne tweeted that the announcements “directly affect our vision of our alliances, our partnerships and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”.
The Biden administration has been in close contact with French officials over the decision to recall Etienne from Paris, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.
“We understand their position and will continue to engage in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other times during our long alliance,” she said in a statement. “France is our oldest ally and one of our strongest partners, and we share a long history of shared democratic values ââand a commitment to work together to address global challenges.”
A woman runs past the closed French Embassy in Washington, DC (DANIEL SLIM /)
The move represents a shocking turnaround for France under centrist Macron, who – after an increasingly bitter relationship with former President Donald Trump – warmly shook hands with Biden at a G-7 summit in June and confirmed that “America is back”.
Macron has yet to comment on the matter. This reminder is his most daring foreign policy decision to date during a four-year presidency during which he sought to strengthen France’s diplomatic footprint and role in shaping European policies, and to rally France’s neighbors around its vision of a Europe less dependent on the US military. umbrella.
France has been campaigning for several years for a European strategy to strengthen economic, political and defense ties in the region from India and China to Japan and New Zealand. The EU unveiled its plan for the Indo-Pacific this week.
For the first time since coming to power in 2017, Macron will not deliver a speech at the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly from next week. Le Drian will deliver the French address instead.
Earlier on Friday, a senior French diplomat, who spoke anonymously in line with standard government practice, said Macron received a letter from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday morning announcing the decision to cancel the deal on the submarines.
French officials then decided to contact the US administration “to ask what was going on,” he said. He added that talks with Washington took place just two to three hours before Biden’s public announcement.
Le Drian on Thursday expressed “complete misunderstanding” of the move and criticized both Australia and the United States
âIt was really a stab in the back. We have built a relationship of trust with Australia, and that trust has been betrayed, âhe said. âIt doesn’t happen between allies.
He also compared Biden’s decision to Trump’s under his “America First” doctrine.
Paris raised the issue of the Indo-Pacific strategy during the visit to Paris on June 25 by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressing the importance of its submarine program with Australia, said the French diplomat.
“We said that for us it was a very important and critical element in our Indo-Pacific strategy,” he said. Blinken met Macron during the visit.
The French diplomat said Australia had never communicated to France its willingness to switch to nuclear-powered submarines, most notably during a meeting between Macron and Morrison in Paris on June 15.
A recall of ambassadors is very unusual between allied countries.
In 2019, Paris recalled its envoy to neighboring Italy after the country’s leaders made critical public comments about the French government. France recalled its ambassador to Turkey last year after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron needed mental health treatment.