20 Sep 2021, 12:31

Australia says 'no need to prove' affection for France

  SYDNEY, Sept 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Australia has already proven its
affection for France through the sacrifice of Aussie soldiers during World
War I and II, the country's deputy prime minister claimed Monday, stoking a
row over a major submarine contract.

   Following French fury at Canberra's decision to abruptly cancel a multi-
billion-dollar submarine contract negotiated over years, Barnaby Joyce
weighed in.

   "Australia doesn't need to prove their affinity and their affection and
their resolute desire to look after the liberty and the freedom and the
equality of France," said Joyce, who is currently acting prime minister while
Scott Morrison visits Washington.

   "We have tens of thousands of Australians who have either died on French
soil or died protecting French soil from the countries that surround them, in
both the First World War and the Second World War."

   His reference to difficult periods in France's history around a century
ago is unlikely to soothe French anger.

   Paris has repeatedly lashed out at Australia and the United States after
Canberra last week backed out of a major deal to buy 12 conventional French
submarines, instead choosing to acquire American nuclear-powered vessels
after secret talks.

   French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled France's ambassadors to
Canberra and Washington, while French officials have accused the nations of
lying over a linked defence alliance that also includes Britain.

   Canberra has stressed the importance of ties with France but defended the
decision as in Australia's national interest, which comes as the nation looks
to counter the rising influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region.


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