French President Emmanuel Macron said that France’s offer to supply submarines to Australia still stands, after Canberra ditched a multibillion-dollar submarine deal last year sparking a bitter row.
The French offer “is known and remains on the table,” Macron told reporters in Bangkok on Thursday, after meeting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali on Wednesday.
The French president stressed that submarines would be built in Australia, noting that such a choice would preserve Australia’s “freedom and sovereignty.” He opposed the proposal to the arrangement with the U.S. and the U.K. to supply nuclear submarines which, he said, risks increasing tensions with China and make Australia dependent on other countries.
“It is up to the Australians to choose, we are consistent,” Macron said, while noting that, for the moment, the Australian government has not changed its mind on the issue.
A fierce diplomatic rift emerged between the two nations last year after Canberra scrapped a contract for French submarines and instead formed a pact with the U.K. and the U.S. to acquire nuclear-powered vessels. Following the move, Paris said it no longer trusted Australia. Relations between the two nations have improved since the new Australian government took office this year.
Macron confirmed that the submarine offer was also discussed during a bilateral meeting with Albanese in Paris earlier this year.