Australian Prime Minister visits France to restore relations

Sydney (Australia), June 23. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Thursday that he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron next week in Paris to restore relations that deteriorated after last year’s break from an agreement to buy French submarines.

Speaking to Australia’s ABC, Albanese, who will take part next week at the G7 summit in Germany and the NATO summit in Madrid, said he had received an invitation from Macron and expected a warm welcome.

“We have to restart relations. We have already had very constructive talks,” said the Australian president and leader of the Labor Party that won last May’s election.

On June 11, France expressed its willingness to overcome a diplomatic standoff with Australia over the giant submarine purchase contract that that country had cut in September, after Canberra announced its agreement to pay compensation to the French shipyards involved.

This is 555 million euros (about 583 million euros) to be paid by the Australian authorities to the Naval Group for unilateral breach of contract.

It was Scott Morrison’s former Liberal National government that canceled the contract, signed in 2016 and worth A$90,000 (US$63,400 million or €60,500 million), to build dozens of French diesel-powered submarines.

The oceanic nation breached the agreement immediately after concluding a security alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom (AUKUS) that would allow it access to American technology to build nuclear submarines.

The French government then accused the Australian executive of “severing the relationship of trust” between the two countries by canceling the agreement on a “unilateral basis”.

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France even invited the ambassadors of Australia and the United States to consult, an unprecedented decision in relations with these allies.

After his electoral victory, Albanese received a congratulatory invitation from Macron and the two leaders decided to rebuild trust between the two countries.

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