Australian PM rejects ‘sledging’ from France amid row

Australian PM rejects 'sledging' from France amid row
Emmanuel Macron says Scott Morrison lied to him during a meeting in June. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has escalated a row with France over a cancelled submarine deal, saying his country will not accept “sledging” and “slurs”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that he knew Mr Morrison had lied to him about his intentions to renege on the deal.

The Australian PM denies he lied.

But he has been accused of cynically twisting Mr Macron’s words as rebuking Australians rather than him personally.

Mr Morrison told reporters at the COP26 climate summit: “I’ve got broad shoulders, I can deal with that [the accusations]. But those slurs – I’m not going to cop sledging of Australia. I am not going to cop that on behalf of Australians.”

Australia cancelled the $37bn deal with France in September to build 12 diesel-powered submarines, and instead negotiated a defence pact with the US and the UK – the so-called Aukus.

The defence pact, known as Aukus, will see Australia gain access to US nuclear submarine technology – a move seen as a strategic counter to China.

But the move infuriated France, which said it was stabbed in the back and blindsided. President Macron temporarily recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the US.

Mr Morrison and Mr Macron met at the G20 summit in Rome on the weekend – their first meeting since the row.

But asked later whether he thought the Australian PM had been untruthful, Mr Macron said: “I don’t think, I know.”

“I have a lot of respect for your country. I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistently with this value,” Mr Macron told Australian journalists in Rome.

You may read: French president says Australian PM lied over submarine deal