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EU backs France in submarine dispute

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European Union foreign ministers expressed support and solidarity with France on Monday during a meeting in New York to discuss Australia’s scrapping of a $40 billion submarine order with Paris in favour of a U.S. and British deal

European Union foreign ministers expressed support for France in its submarine order dispute with Australia during the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.

Australia said last week it would scrap a $40 billion submarine order from Paris in favor of a U.S. and British deal that’s enraged France.

It includes at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with U.S. and British technology and a trilateral security partnership under the name AUKUS.

After a closed-door meeting at the annual UN gathering of world leaders, European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrel, said “more cooperation” was needed among leaders and “less fragmentation.”

“The position has been this clear expression of solidarity with France, and the consideration that this was not a bilateral issue but a relationship with European Union that affects all of us. And also the fact that it doesn’t go in the direction of a greater cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which is our purpose.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian gave the U.S a dressing down earlier on Monday, accusing U.S. President Joe Biden of continuing his predecessor Donald Trump’s foreign policies.

“Yes, it is a disappointment. We thought unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting your partner was part of the past but it continues so we want to understand.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there will not be an opportunity to address the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron this week.

Meanwhile, Biden and Macron are set to speak by phone in the next few days.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said she expected Biden to “reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing.”

It’s not clear what impact the security partnership will have on next month’s fresh rounds of EU-Australia trade talks.

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