China: Scott Morrison warns about 'coercive' behaviour
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After the French President was snubbed from the trilateral alliance, Mr Morrison admitted he will not be speaking to his counterpart despite Joe Biden requesting a joint call. Although French officials are furious over losing out on a $90billion (£47billion) submarine contract, Mr Morrison will instead hold a dinner with Boris Johnson at the Australian embassy. Speaking as he arrived in New York to commence the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Morrison insisted the submarines offered by France could no longer fit Australia’s strategic needs.
He also admitted it would be naïve not to think French officials would be angry over the termination of the deal.
Mr Morrison said: “It was not possible for us to be able to discuss such secure issues in relation to our dealing with other countries at that time.
“We had made it very clear, I had made it very clear, that a conventional submarine would no longer be meeting our strategic interests and what we needed those boats to do.
“That had been communicated very clearly many months ago, we were working through those issues, so to suggest somehow that this decision could have been taken without causing this disappointment, I think, would be very naïve.
“I can only really quote the Foreign Affairs chief from the European Commission, who says you don’t mix apples and pears.
“I think that’s a pretty good summary of the situation.”
Mr Morrison will spend 24 hours in New York and will hold a one-to-one meeting with the US President.
The Australian President will also participate in the meeting of the Quad nations: Australia, US, Japan and India.
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The increasing presence of China in the Indo-Pacific region is widely considered a key influence behind the AUKUS deal.
Under the agreement, Australia will now be provided with a nuclear-powered submarine.
In 2016, France agreed a deal with Australia to build 12 conventional submarines.
France beat Japan and Germany to the deal and its cancellation has thrown Franco-Australian relations into jeopardy.
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The French government has withdrawn ambassadors from both the US and Australia due to the new alliance.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also described the move as “a stab in the back”.
He added: “We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.”
The EU has also stood behind France over the dispute.
Some officials now claim a trade deal with Australia is now in jeopardy.
EU Council President Charles Michel said: “With the new Joe Biden administration, America is back.
“What does it mean America is back?
“Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know.”
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