French President Macron accuses Australian PM Morrison of lying about AUKUS

17:08, 01 November 2021
French President Macron accuses Australian PM Morrison of lying about AUKUS Photo: Norbert Scanella/ Look Press

The French Head of State has met his Australian counterpart at the G20 summit in Rome for the first time since the AUKUS security pact was signed.

French President Emmanuel Macron has told journalists that Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him about a submarine deal. 

As the French leader was taking questions from Australian reporters at the G20 summit held in Rome, Italy, he was asked whether he thought that Morrison lied to him. 

“I don’t think, I know,” Macron replied.

Before that, he highlighted that he had a lot of respect for Australia and Australian people insisting at the same time that allies should act in the same way. 

Macron has also said that France can restart negotiations after hearing Morrison’s propositions. 

“I never say never. We will discuss. We will see what he will deliver.”

The President admitted that even great partners can have disagreements but stressed the importance of mutual respect. He called France and Australia strong allies bringing up their common values and past events including two World Wars. 

Later Scott Morrison has denied that he lied to the French President adding that he explained to Macron that Australia did not need French diesel submarines.

"I was very clear that what was going to be provided to us was not going to meet our strategic interests. Then we communicated to Macron our ultimate decision," Morrison said.

The AUKUS contract, also dubbed “the deal of the century”, was signed in September by the UK, the US, and Australia to oppose China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific region and guarantee stability in Asia. According to the agreement, Australia will get access to American technologies on nuclear-powered submarines and other IT and AI research. 

Before the pact, Australia had a deal with France concerning 12 submarines worth at least €31 bln ($36,5 bln) which was then annulled. The decision raised the anger of France and the EU to the point that the French government recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.