'We didn't deface the Eiffel Tower': Australian deputy prime minister hits out at France in submarine row

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 01, 2021, 03:37 PM(IST)

Verbal volley continues between Macron and Morrison over submarine deal Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In Rome for the G20 summit, Macron and Morrison met for the first time since Australia scrapped a submarine deal with France while announcing a new security alliance with the US and the UK in September

Australia has responded after French President Emmanuel Macron accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of "lying" over the multi-billion dollar submarine contract. Macron said that more needs to be done to rebuild trust between the two countries. 

Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, while speaking to the  Australian Broadcasting Corporation said that defence was the nation's top priority and it had to take precedence over diplomacy. Speaking to reporters, Mr Joyce said, "It was a contract. We didn't steal an island. We didn't deface the Eiffel Tower."

When asked if Australia could have handled the situation better, he said, "In hindsight. You know, tomorrow the Melbourne Cup is on. If only I could put a bet on last year's one, I could make some money."

Also read | AUKUS row: Australian prime minister lied over submarine deal, says French president

In Rome for the G20 summit, Macron and Morrison met for the first time since Australia scrapped a submarine deal with France while announcing a new security alliance with the US and the UK in September dubbed AUKUS. 

The new security alliance looks to give Australia access to nuclear-powered submarines. The announcement caught France off guard and saw the ambassadors of the country recalled from Washington and Canberra amid escalating tension. 

"I have a lot of respect for your country. I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people. I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistently with this value," the French president told a group of Australian reporters, who travelled to cover the G20. 

Asked if he thought Australian PM lied to him, the president replied, "I don't think, I know."

(With inputs from Agencies)

Read in App