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AUKUS: Macron President Says Australian PM Lied Over Submarine Deal

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French President Emmanuel Macron has said Australia’s PM Scott Morrison lied to him about a scrapped submarine deal. However, he does not think that Mr Morrison was untruthful.

Mr Morrison denies that he was dishonest. The pair’s meeting at the G20 summit was their first since the row erupted in September.

On the sidelines of the gathering in Rome, President Macron was asked by an Australian journalist whether he could trust Mr Morrison again.

“We will see what he will deliver,” Mr Macron answered.

“I have a lot of respect for your country. 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.”

The cancelled deal launched a bitter rift between France, Australia and the US.

Morrison swiftly denied he had lied and said he had explained to Macron over dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June that the submarines to be supplied by French company Naval Group were not going to meet Australian needs. “I was very clear that the conventional submarines were not going to be able to meet our strategic interests and we were going to have to make a decision in our national interest,” Morrison said.

Some Australian officials familiar with the June dinner conversation said Macron at one point told Morrison “I don’t like losing” – a comment the Australians interpreted as a sign the French knew then that it was at rious risk of losing the submarine deal.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced the decision as “a stab in the back”, and Paris temporarily recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the US.

Speaking after Mr Macron’s comments, Scott Morrison told reporters he had not lied to the president, and that he had previously

On Friday, US President Joe Biden also held his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Macron since the Aukus pact was agreed.

During the seemingly awkward exchange, Mr Biden admitted that the US was “clumsy” over the negotiations. Mr Macron said it was important to “look to the future”.

The leaders will have more time to mend relations, as all three are now heading to the Scottish city of Glasgow for the COP26 climate change summit.

The Aukus pact will let Australia build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology provided by the US. It will also cover AI and other technologies, and is one of Australia’s biggest defence partnerships in decades.

The pact scuppered a deal signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines.

It is widely seen as an effort to counter China’s growing military might. China has condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.

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