AUKUS row won’t impact military cooperation: NATO military chief

WION Web Team
Athens, Greece Published: Sep 18, 2021, 11:23 PM(IST)

Joe Biden-Emmanuel Macron Photograph:( Reuters )

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On Thursday, France accused Australia of “backstabbing” and Washington of “Donald Trump-era behaviour” after Canberra scrapped a huge submarines deal with Paris and went for nuclear subs from the US

NATO military chief on Saturday played down the dispute between France and the US over the latter handing over a nuclear submarine contract, saying that the tensions between the two nations won’t have an impact on "military cooperation" within the group.

"There might be implications or consequences as a result of this agreement but I don't foresee for the moment it will have an impact on the cohesion within NATO,” Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of the NATO Military Committee, told reporters in Athens.

“First of all, as far as I know, Australia is a partner but it's not part of the NATO organisation. There are many agreements among nations that might have an affect on NATO on the political side. 

"But for now, it will not have an affect as far as I can see on the military cooperation within NATO," Bauer added following NATO military chiefs of defence conference.

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On Thursday, France accused Australia of “backstabbing” and Washington of “Donald Trump-era behaviour” after Canberra scrapped a huge submarines deal with Paris and went for nuclear subs from the US.

Also read Australia kept India in loop regarding Aukus at the highest-level

France's Naval Group, partly owned by the state, had been chosen to build 12 conventionally-powered submarines for Australia, based on France’s Barracuda nuclear-powered subs in development.

However on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden announced a new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance (AUKUS), extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.

The pact, widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China, infuriated France, which lost its contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth Aus$50 billion ($36.5 billion) when signed in 2016.

As a result, French President Emmanuel Macron recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia on Friday. 

A White House official expressed "regret" over the French envoy's recall but added "we will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance".

(With inputs from agencies)

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