LONDON, PAA – A British Foreign Office minister says an agreement for the UK and the US to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia “is not about France” after a submarine-building contract between France and Australia was cancelled.
James Cleverly told Sky News on Monday that the agreement – known as Aukus – was instead about the UK’s very strong relationship with the US and Australia.
“It’s about reinforcing an incredibly important and strong defence relationship, and it is also about making sure that we have hi-tech manufacturing jobs here in the UK, that’s what this is about.
“Obviously, with any international relationship, there are ups and downs, and I have no doubt that we will ultimately resolve any frictions that there are currently with France.
France recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington after learning of the Aukus deal and the scrapping of a $A90 billion deal for France to build 12 conventionally powered submarines for Australia.
Cleverly said the contractual relationship between Australia and France was for Australia and France.
“This is actually about making sure that A, we are protected, and B, that we are closely aligned with two of our strongest and most long-standing defence and security partners in the world,” Cleverly said.
“We’ve made our position absolutely clear that this is global Britain, we’re engaging with the world, and we are working with our partners all across the world, including the United States of America, including Australia.”