France Reportedly Cancels Washington Gala After 'Betrayal' Submarine Deal
France earlier voiced its discontent with the newly announced defense pact between the US, UK and Australia as it saw its own arrangement with Canberra trashed in favor of the trilateral deal.
A gala intended to be held at the French embassy in Washington, DC, has been cancelled in the wake of the US' new defense initiative with the UK and Australia, it was revealed on Thursday.
The event, which was intended to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Capes, was expected to be held at the French embassy on Friday. A portion of the event was also meant to be held in the Maryland port city of Baltimore, aboard a French Frigate.
An unidentified official who spoke with the New York Times for a Thursday story confirmed that the gala would not be held, and that France's top naval officer would be returning to Paris. As the event was meant to highlight the strength of the US-French alliance, the official stressed that it would have been "ridiculous" to host the event in light of the new security partnership.
That same official also relayed to the outlet that the US' actions, specifically of not detailing the new arrangement to France, underscore that the Land of the Free is no longer the dependable ally it once was to the European nation.
As the Times reports, French officials had repeatedly attempted to broach the subject with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, but had ultimately been "rebuffed" on several occasions.
An unidentified US official had noted to the publication that Biden insiders had kept mum of the initiative because they knew that France would protest the move, adding that the Biden White House came to the conclusion that it was up to Australia to inform France since the folks Down Under had their own defense pact with the French.
In fact, in the wake of the new defense pact between the three countries, France's Naval Group blasted the move and voiced "deep disappointment" as the new arrangement meant that its own $90 billion submarine contract with Australia was effectively trashed.
The French Foreign Ministry added onto the defense contractor's remarks, emphasizing that the behavior exhibited by Australia, the US and UK were deplorable, and not at all in line with the cooperation held between the parties. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Franceinfo Radio that the new deal was a "unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision" largely similar to those made by former US President Donald Trump.
"A knife in the back," Le Drian said of Australia's decision to sidestep the contract with the Naval Group.
The new so-called AUKUS mission will see the three countries work collectively to strengthen one another's ability to back security and defense interests while also arming Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and tomahawk missiles.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier told reporters that the nation could see the new submarine fleet "in the water" sometime within the next ten years.
However, it's worth noting that the alliance is also largely seen as an attempt by the trio to counter China's influence in the region. In fact, China is one of many critics of the new arrangement.