Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan begged his French counterpart to “resolve” tensions between nations, after France’s trade minister declined an offer to meet in Paris next month.
- French remain angry with Australia for bailout of $ 90 billion submarine contract
- Dan Tehan says there is an open invitation for his French counterpart to meet him
- French minister’s office official says offer has already been rejected
France still seethes with anger after Australia bailed out $ 90 billion submarine contract in favor of deal with US and UK to help Australia switch to ships nuclear powered.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan will be in Paris next month for a meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and has issued an invitation to meet his counterpart, Franck Riester.
“I hope we can sit down and discuss this issue,” he said.
“There is an open invitation for me to sit down with my French counterpart and be able to explain the decision – a decision that was made in our national interest which was aimed at protecting our sovereignty, our security – and I could sit down. and work on that with my counterpart. “
But an official in Mr Riester’s office said the offer had already been turned down.
“We will not follow up on the Australian minister’s request for a meeting. We cannot continue as if nothing had happened,” the French official said.
When asked about the rejection, an optimist, Mr Tehan, was hopeful the couple could sit down and discuss the matter.
“When I saw this report, what I did was I spoke to our ambassador in Paris and I just said, ‘Please just send this invitation – it’s is an open invitation – I would be more than willing to sit down and talk to our counterpart and resolve this issue, ”he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also tried unsuccessfully to speak to President Emmanuel Macron following the deal.
Paris has recalled its ambassadors in Australia and the United States following the announcement of the submarine.
While he has since announced he will fire his US ambassador, after the French and US presidents decided to reestablish ties in a phone call, he remains furious with Canberra.
Wong says PM’s trip ‘overshadowed’ by diplomatic split
Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong said it was another example of how the federal government had mismanaged the deal.
“This is concerning and demonstrates yet again… the way Mr. Morrison handled this was to focus on the announcement, not on what the country needed from him, which is to manage this. announcement with other partners, ”she said.
Mr. Morrison is in the United States for a series of high-level diplomatic talks, including the inaugural face-to-face Quad leaders’ meeting.
But Senator Wong said the whole trip was overshadowed by the divide between France and Australia.
“It is not surprising that Mr Morrison has spent most of this week limiting the damage following the reaction of the French, who are understandably quite furious with the way they have been treated,” she said. declared.
“Clearly he hasn’t done enough when it comes to dealing with an Indo-Pacific partner, and that is France.”