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Australia PM on US submarine deal: I don’t regret prioritizing our national interests

Published: Updated:

Australia’s Prime Minister defended on Sunday his country’s decision to scrap the multi-billion-dollar submarine contract with France in favor of the newly announced security alliance with the US and Britain.

Asked whether he regretted the decision that led to the deterioration of ties between Australia and France over the past couple of days, Scott Morrison said: “I don't regret the decision to put Australia's national interests first. Never will.”

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Last Wednesday, US, Britain, and Australia announced they formed a new security deal that will equip Australia with nuclear submarines.

Australia also announced that it was backing out of a 2016 contract with France to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines worth nearly $100 billion.

The announcement enraged France that accused the US of “duplicity”, and Australia of “betrayal” and declared that a crisis struck at the heart of Western alliances.

France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia.

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron will speak over the coming days in an effort to resolve the issue.

Morrison said he understood France’s grievances over the cancellation of their previous deal, however he stressed the importance of his country’s national interests came first.

“The decision… was about protecting Australia's sovereign interests. And, of course, it is a matter of great disappointment to the French Government and to the Naval Group, and those who are working on the project. So, I understand their disappointment. But, at the same time, Australia, like any sovereign nation, must always take decisions that are in our sovereign national defense interests,” he said.

He also denied having lied to France, saying he informed Macron of the new deal with the US and Britain the night prior to the announcement.

Read more:

West imploding over submarines deal: What is going on with US, UK, Australia, France?

US move to dislodge France from Australia submarine deal is incoherent: Ministers

Biden, Macron to talk in ‘coming days’ about submarines spat