France accuses Australia of “inelegant methods” after Macron’s text message leaked to the press
France accused Australia on Tuesday of using “very inelegant methods” after the leak of a text message sent by President Emmanuel Macron to Australian leader Scott Morrison with the apparent aim of implying that he was aware of the collapse of a major undersea agreement sooner than it claims.
Australian and European media reported on the text message the French leader sent to Morrison two days before Australia announced it had torn up a multibillion dollar contract with France to build a new fleet of sub- sailors.
France, which reacted with fury to the cancellation, has always said it was blinded by the announcement, and Macron added to the fury this weekend by accusing Morrison of lying to him.
But Tuesday’s text message revelation can be taken to suggest that Macron was less surprised by the cancellation than he admitted.
“Should I expect good news or bad news for our shared submarine ambitions?” “, We read in the SMS sent to Morrison 48 hours before the official announcement of the cancellation of the contract which was made during a press conference.
A source close to Macron, who asked not to be named, said the leak was evidence of “very inelegant methods”.
Relying on previous assurances that Macron had not been warned in advance of the cancellation, the source told AFP that the SMS did not question this account.
“On the contrary, this text message shows that the president did not know they were going to cancel the contract,” said the source.
If a message had existed that clearly showed that he actually knew “they would have reported it instead.”
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The source added: “We knew the Australians were having issues, but they were only about the technicalities and timing, like with any big contract like this.”
It is precisely these questions that the SMS was referring to, before a discussion with the submarine builder Naval Group scheduled for the next day, the source said. Morrison’s response to the text message is unclear.
Reports indicated that the SMS leak could have been engineered by Morrison’s office in retaliation for the “lying” charge.
The dispute also pitted Paris against the United States, which agreed with Canberra to supply submarines in place of the French.
Australia announced the pact as it joined a new defense alliance with Britain and the United States dubbed AUKUS, one in a series of initiatives by US President Joe Biden that considers the fight against China as the primary concern of the United States.
Last week, Biden admitted on Friday to having “awkward” relations with France, in a sort of mea culpa that Macron’s office said would help restore confidence with Washington.
“But Scott Morrison never apologized,” the source said.