Australia’s deputy Prime Minister has told France to keep things in perspective after Emmanuel Macron accused Australia of lying about cancelling their submarine building contract in September.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters “We didn’t steal an island, we didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower. It was a contract.”
“Contracts have terms and conditions, and one of those terms and conditions and propositions is that you might get out of the contract.”
His rebuttal came after French President Emmanuel Macron said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him and indicated more efforts were required to rebuild trust between the two allies.
In Rome for the G20 summit, the two leaders were meeting for first time since Australia scrapped the multi-billion dollar deal with France as part of a new security alliance with Britain and the United States unveiled in September.
The alliance, dubbed Aukus, which could give Australia access to nuclear-powered submarines, caught Paris off guard, prompting it to recall ambassadors from Washington and Canberra amid accusations that France had been betrayed.
“I don’t think, I know,” Mr Macron said in response to a question whether he thought that Mr Morrison had lied to him
“I have a lot of respect for your country,” he said in comments on Sunday to a group of Australian reporters who had travelled to Italy for the summit of leaders of the top 20 economies.
“I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people. I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line, and consistently, with this value.”