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In September last year, Australia finalized a deal called AUKUS with the US and the UK, which would help the Aussies develop nuclear submarines. While this is all fine and well, initially, it was France that was going to help Australia with French-made submarines in a contract worth around US$66 billion. But according to sources, France was always running over budget and behind schedule. Plus, Australia was worried that another deal with the EU nation would mean that by the time they got their submarines, they would be outdated.
So Australia went ahead and made a deal with the US and UK and didn’t tell France until the last minute. The French were angry, canceling a Washington gala, labeling the behavior as Trump-like and saying it was “really a stab in the back." Now, a new Australian leader is in office. Albanese has plans to make a detour to Paris on the way to Madrid for the NATO summit this week to smooth things out with France’s Macron. This comes after Australia announced it would pay France around US$584 million for walking back the original contract.
At the end of May, Macron called Albanese to congratulate him on winning the election. During their chat, they agreed to “rebuild a bilateral relationship founded on trust and respect," according to a statement released after the call.
“It is important that a reset occur," Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We’ve already had very constructive discussions … Next week’s visit is a very concrete sign of the repair that’s been done already.”
“France, of course, is central to power in Europe. But it’s also a key power in the Pacific, in our own region as well … Next week’s visit is a very concrete sign of the repair that’s been done already,” Albanese added.
“The previous government made a decision that was in our national security interest, on all of the advice we had,” said Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. “The submarine the French provided wasn’t going to provide the security and the defences that we needed … and so I don’t make an apology for the decision we made."