French President Emmanuel Macron has fired a farewell shot to the outgoing Australian prime minister while welcoming new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
In a statement released by the Élysée Palace, Macron said that he had spoken with the newly elected Australian prime minister.
“After noting the deep breach of trust that followed former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to terminate the Future Submarine Programme, the head of state and the Australian prime minister agreed to rebuild a bilateral relationship based on trust and respect to jointly overcome global challenges, foremost among which is the climate emergency, and the strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific,” the statement said on May 26.
“A roadmap will be prepared to structure this new bilateral agenda by identifying strategic cooperation between our two countries with the aim of strengthening our resilience and contributing to regional peace and security.”
The French president acknowledged the historical ties between both nations and expressed gratitude to Australia for its contributions during World War I. Albanese and Macron also spoke about the situation in Ukraine and the response to a potential global food crisis.
Albanese wrote in a post on Twitter that both leaders had a “warm and constructive conversation.”
“We discussed our commitment to a free, open and resilient Indo-Pacific, cooperating on climate and energy, and support for Ukraine. I look forward to working together on our shared priorities.”
A warm and constructive conversation tonight with 🇫🇷 President @EmmanuelMacron. We discussed our commitment to a free, open and resilient Indo-Pacific, cooperating on climate and energy, and support for Ukraine. I look forward to working together on our shared priorities.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) May 26, 2022
Relations between France and Australia took a dive following the announcement of the trilateral AUKUS agreement between Morrison, U.S. President Joe Biden, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. AUKUS would see the United States and the United Kingdom arm the Royal Australian Navy with nuclear-powered submarines.
The fallout of that agreement saw the previous Morrison government cancel the troubled $90 billion (US$64 billion) Future Submarine Programme for 12 custom-built, Attack-class submarines from French defence contractor Naval Group.
However, the project was subject to severe delays and major cost blowouts—the Attack-class was repurposed from the existing Barracuda-class nuclear-powered submarine and fitted with a diesel-electric engine instead.
French leaders reacted angrily to the decision to cancel the submarines, with the president ordering his ambassadors to return from the United States and Australia.