Snubbed Australia to be 'patient' in fixing France ties

Sydney (AFP) –


Australia's leader said he is being given the cold shoulder by French President Emmanuel Macron after the controversial scrapping of a submarine deal, but vowed to be "patient" in repairing frayed relations.

Speaking in Washington late Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had tried to reach the French leader but the call had "not yet" happened.

"But we'll be patient. We understand their disappointment," Morrison said.

It is a week since Australia without warning tore up a long-standing Aus$90 billion (USD$66bn) deal to buy a dozen French submarines.

Australia simultaneously announced plans to acquire at least eight US or British nuclear-powered vessels after months of secret talks, sparking fury in Paris.

France in retaliation cancelled a cocktail party to mark US-French ties, recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra and accused both countries of backstabbing and lies.

While US President Joe Biden and Macron have moved to patch up their differences in a 30-minute phone call, which the White House described on Wednesday as "friendly", there has been no such effort made with Morrison.

France plans to return its ambassador to Washington next week, but there is no announcement yet on the return of the French ambassador to Canberra.

"Australia decided not to proceed with a very significant defence contract. And understandably, we know that France is disappointed about that," Morrison said.

"I think those issues will take further time to work through than the ones that were being dealt with between the United States and France."