British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday performed down the diplomatic rift with Paris over a brand new safety pact with Australia and the US, saying his nation’s “love of France is ineradicable”.
Speaking to journalists as he flew to New York, Johnson insisted Britain and France have a “very friendly relationship”, which he described as being of “huge importance”.
The safety settlement, and Australia’s associated determination to tear up a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines in favour of American nuclear-powered vessels, has sparked outrage in Paris, with President Emmanuel Macron recalling France’s ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented transfer.
French overseas minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated over the weekend that Britain was a “third wheel” within the affair, and accused London of “constant opportunism”.
France has cancelled a gathering set for this week between its Defence Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace, a supply at her ministry advised AFP Sunday.
But on the airplane Johnson downplayed France’s considerations.
He stated the pact, dubbed AUKUS, was “not in any way meant to be zero-sum, it’s not meant to be exclusionary”.
“It’s not something that anybody needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends,” he stated.
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