Johnson tells Macron to 'get a grip' over Aukus submarine deal
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
He said France’s President needs to “get a grip” and calm down about the military pact between the UK, US and Australia. The PM’s incendiary remarks come after a diplomatic storm over the agreement. In a rare step among allies, Mr Macron ordered the recall of his nation’s ambassadors who were in Washington DC and Canberra. London has expressed astonishment at the way the French are behaving. There is a belief Mr Macron is deliberately ratcheting up the anger to secure better compensation for the loss of its £27billion submarine contract with Australia.
And Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night reaffirmed that he had warned the French about the pact before its shock announcement last week. Speaking to reporters in Washington, Mr Johnson said it was time for the French to “prenez un grip” and “donnez-moi un break”.
Mr Johnson is understood to have learned French while attending school in Brussels. During his time as Foreign Secretary, he was known to venture into French in press conferences.
Paris is angry after Australia signed the pact to build nuclear-powered submarines, pulling out of a major contract with France in the process. Mr Johnson insisted the three allies were “not trying to shoulder anybody out”.
The AUKUS agreement, widely seen as an effort to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea, ended a deal signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines. In the following days, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the move as a “stab in the back”.
However, Mr Macron agreed to send his ambassador back to Washington after speaking with Joe Biden yesterday.
But Mr Johnson admitted that he has not spoken to Mr Macron yet.
Speaking to reporters on the train travelling from Washington DC to New York, Mr Johnson said: “We love the French. It’s just one of those things – there are no easy ways of having these conversations. It’s a very human thing to delay the conversation until the last possible moment.
“I don’t know if anyone has been in that situation in their emotional life, but it’s very human to put it off.”
He described the pact as a great step forward for global security.
He added: “It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder-to-shoulder, creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology. It is not exclusive. It is not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China, for instance.
“It is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries in a way that will be beneficial for things that we believe in.
“I find it very hard to see in this agreement anything not to like.”
Analysts have described the AUKUS alliance as probably the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War Two.
The trio will focus on military capability, separating it from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance which also includes New Zealand and Canada.
While Australia’s submarines are the main plank, AUKUS will also involve the sharing of cyber capabilities and undersea tech.
Mr Johnson discussed AUKUS with Joe Biden when he met with the US President on Tuesday and over dinner in Washington DC with Australia’s PM Mr Morrison.
The PM added: “We want to reach out to other partners.
“Joe is keen to look at the formula and the detail on D11 (alliance of key democracies), the G7 plus the other Indo-Pacific democracies, Japan, India, plus Australia and you try to bring everyone in that way.
“In that group you couldn’t do the full sharing of the technology which underpins AUKUS.”
Meanwhile, France agreed to return its ambassador to the US after Mr Biden vowed not to cut Paris out of key future defence decisions in the Indo-Pacific, during a phone call designed to calm French rage.
In a joint statement, issued after the conversation ended a five-day standoff between the leaders, the two men agreed to meet in Europe in late October, probably at the G20 summit, to discuss how to improve consultations in future.
Mr Macron said he would dispatch his withdrawn ambassador back to Washington DC next week.
But there was no sign that America or Australia would go back on their decision to work together on building nuclear powered submarines.
That decision led Canberra to cancel its contract for the French to build diesel subs.
Mr Johnson yesterday also took part in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
He walked up the steps to the tomb and touched a wreath, before heading inside for a tour of the amphitheatre building which contains historic artefacts.
He was greeted by a 21-gun cannon salute and a procession of honour at the sombre event outside Washington DC.
Source: Read Full Article