France’s Macron says still open to revisiting submarine deal with Australia

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The French government is still open to revisiting a submarine deal with Australia, President Emmanuel Macron said, despite the dramatic rift between the two countries following Canberra’s decision in 2021 to cancel a billion-dollar military contract.

At a press conference in Bangkok on Thursday, Macron said the option for Australia to build together or purchase French-made submarines remained “on the table,” although he conceded there had been no indication yet from Canberra that it was looking to revisit the deal.

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Macron met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali on Wednesday evening. When it comes to the submarine deal, the French president admitted he had been discussing the subject with Albanese but said the Australians “haven’t decided to change strategy on that subject at this point.”

The relationship between the two countries soured in late 2021, when then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he was abandoning a $58 billion contract for a fleet of French-built submarines.

Instead, Morrison announced a deal to obtain nuclear-powered submarines in collaboration with the US and the UK under a security agreement known as AUKUS. Macron at the time accused Morrison of lying to him about the future of the contract.

Since Albanese’s center-left Labor government came to power in May, relations between Canberra and Paris have improved. Asked about his discussions with Macron at a press conference on Wednesday, Albanese declined to go into specifics on military “equipment.”

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