France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after Australia ended a deal to buy French submarines in favor of one to pursue nuclear-powered vessels using U.S. technology.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a written statement Friday that the move “is justified by the exceptional seriousness” of the matter.
He said the decision by President Emmanuel Macron followed “unacceptable behavior between allies and partners.”
This is the first time France has recalled its ambassador to the United States, according to the French Foreign Ministry. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1778.
A White House official said that the U.S. regretted the French decision and would be engaged in the coming days to resolve its differences with France.
At the State Department, spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement, “France is a vital partner and our oldest ally, and we place the highest value on our relationship.”
U.S. President Joe Biden announced Wednesday the deal between the United States, Australia and Britain to provide U.S. nuclear submarine technology to Australia.
Macron has not commented on the issue.
France had been planning to sell conventional submarines to Australia in a multibillion-dollar deal.
The country has also been pushing for several years to create a European strategy to boost economic and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region.
In an interview Thursday with France Info radio, Le Drian described the deal between the United States and Australia as a “stab in the back.”
“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he said, adding that Biden had acted like his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said.