BRUSSELS (AFP) – European Union foreign ministers expressed their support and solidarity with France on Monday (September 20) during a meeting in New York to discuss Australia’s removal of an order for 40 billion dollars (54 billion Singaporean dollars) with Paris in favor of one and the British agreement.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the annual gathering of UN world leaders, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that “more cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation “were necessary to achieve a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region where China is the great rising power.
Australia announced last week that it would cancel an order for conventional submarines from France and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology after entering into a security partnership with these countries under the name of AUKUS.
“Certainly we were taken by surprise by this announcement,” said Borrell.
The decision enraged France and earlier Monday in New York, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the administration of US President Joe Biden of continuing the tendencies of his predecessor Donald Trump towards “unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and disrespect for your partner “.
The United States sought to appease the anger of France, a NATO ally. French President Emmanuel Macron and Biden are due to speak on the phone in the coming days.
“We are allies, we speak and do not hide different strategies developed. This is why there is a crisis of confidence, ”said Le Drian. “So all of this needs clarification and explanation. It can take time.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday she expected Biden to “reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a series of challenges. facing the world community “when he talks to Macron.
It is not clear whether the dispute will have implications for the next round of EU-Australia trade talks, scheduled for October 12. Borrell met Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in New York on Monday.
European Council President Charles Michel said he was struggling to understand the decision of Australia, Britain and the United States.
“Why? Because with the new administration of Joe Biden, America is back. That was the historic message sent by this new administration and now we have questions. What does that mean – America is back? Is America back in America or somewhere else? We don’t know, “he told reporters in New York.
If China was a primary target for Washington, then it was “very strange” for the United States to team up with Australia and Britain, he said, calling it a move that weakened the alliance. transatlantic.
Senior officials from the United States and the European Union are due to meet in Pittsburgh, Pa. Later this month for the inaugural meeting of the new US-EU Trade and Technology Council, but Michel has said some EU members were pushing for this to be postponed. .