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'Stab in the Back': Ex-French Official Blasts New Trilateral Defence Deal Between US, UK & Australia

© AP Photo / Michel SpinglerA veteran holds a French flag before a ceremony at a WWI and WWII monument in Lille, northern France, Friday May 8, 2020
A veteran holds a French flag before a ceremony at a WWI and WWII monument in Lille, northern France, Friday May 8, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.09.2021
During a virtual press conference late Wednesday, the leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States unveiled a new security pact AUKUS (named after the member nations) aimed at sharing defence technologies as well strengthening cooperation in artificial intelligence, cyber security, and quantum technologies.
Former French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud has blasted the trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain, and the US, describing it as a "stab in the back". "The world is a jungle. France has just been reminded [of] this bitter truth", the former official wrote in a statement on Twitter reacting to the deal.

Under the accord, Australia is to receive its first fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. According to official data, the vessels won't be equipped with nuclear weapons and will simply be powered by nuclear reactors. Following the announcement of a new defence pact, Canberra terminated a deal with the French defence contractor, Naval Group, for the supply of 12 conventional attack-class submarines.

Reports say the deal worth $90 billionm(AUD) included cost blowouts as well as Canberra's demands that components for the submarines be sourced locally. The first submarines were expected to become operational no earlier than the 2030s or even the early 2040s.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines under the trilateral pact with Britain and the US will allow Canberra to meet its mission to protect its "national interest, and that of our regional friends".
Gerard Araud argued that Australia wasn't motivated to purchase nuclear-powered submarines and simply got itself a "juicy contract at the expense of an ally".

Current French officials too voiced regret over the surprise announcement.

"It is a decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia. The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region … marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret", said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tried to soften the blow. The Democrat said Paris already has a "substantial" presence in the Indo-Pacific and plays a key role in strengthening the security and prosperity of the region.
Morrison said that France remains an "incredibly important partner" in the Pacific and voiced hope that the two sides will continue to cooperate once "we move past what is obviously a very difficult and disappointing decision" for Paris.
Although when announcing the trilateral security pact the leaders of the three nations didn't mention China, the wording of the agreement, to "sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region" was widely seen as being directed at Beijing. In recent years, China and the West have had bitter disagreements over a number of issues ranging from territorial disputes, human rights, national security, and most recently the coronavirus pandemic.
Beijing quickly reacted to the announcement of the trilateral pact, saying nations shouldn't "build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interest of third partners. In particular, they should shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice", said a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States.
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