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France Makes Veiled Attack on AUKUS, Saying Australia 'Gives Up Responsibility' of Own Security

© CHRISTOPHER FURLONGBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives to attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. - COP26, running from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow will be the biggest climate conference since the 2015 Paris summit and is seen as crucial in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming, as well as firming up other key commitments. (Photo by Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrives to attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. - COP26, running from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow will be the biggest climate conference since the 2015 Paris summit and is seen as crucial in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming, as well as firming up other key commitments. (Photo by Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
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The trilateral pact between the US, UK, and Australia, dubbed AUKUS, was introduced in September. The deal envisages technical support by America and Britain to build nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Ex-PM Paul Keating has questioned if the AUKUS would diminish Australia’s strategic autonomy.
Warning countries of a “more and more aggressive China”, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that by relinquishing responsibility for their own security, countries aren't pursuing a solution that will ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The minister said that France wants countries with the same strategy to come together without giving in to any hegemony.

“France and India share the same clear-sighted assessment of the challenges in the region, including in terms of maritime security. But a reductionist approach of military blocks, where countries give up responsibility for their security, is not the solution,” Parly said in response to whether AUKUS will impact France-India relations and Indo-Pacific strategy.

Expressing disappointment over the AUKUS announcement , she said that the two countries had developed a very good relationship when Australia made its own decision (AUKUS).
“It is, of course, very disappointing for us, but France will continue being major partner…hopefully, for all countries which want to develop the same strategy in the area (Indo-Pacific),” the minister emphasised.
The minister underlined that France is present in the Indian Ocean, and it is also present in the Pacific, with Polynesian islands and New Caledonia.
“Geography will not change, and France is an Indo-Pacific country. We have roughly 1.6 million inhabitants in the area. We want to develop a very close multi-lateral relationship with the neighbouring countries. Of course, India is at the centre of this strategy,” she said.
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with Iraq's President Barham Salih (not seen) ahead of the Baghdad summit at the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq August 28, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
Macron: Australia Must Suggest Steps to Repair Relations With France After Diplomatic Crisis
Parly, who is visiting New Delhi for the annual Defence Dialogue with her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, said China is a major country, and there are areas where cooperation can be envisaged and developed, including in fighting against climate change.
“China is also a partner for trade and commerce but we see as well that China is getting more and more aggressive in the region, and it is even more specific when it comes to the (South) China Sea,” she said while emphasising that France wants to preserve the Indo-pacific as an open and inclusive area and that must be free from any “coercion”.
France has been critical of the AUKUS partners since Canberra announced its decision to adopt a new nuclear submarine initiative by nixing a $90 billion submarine contract with the French Naval group. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and China have also expressed concerns over the arrangement, fearing AUKUS will fuel the arm race in the region.
On the other hand, some top politicians, including former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, have questioned whether the tripartite defence technology pact would diminish Australia’s strategic autonomy.
Keating said in November that if Australia goes to buy American Virginia class submarines, “they’ll simply be part of the United States force directed by the United States”.
The speculation about undermining Australia’s sovereignty under the pact gained momentum after Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to US President Joe Biden, predicted that AUKUS would lead to “almost a melding of our services.”
“I would think in the next little while we will have more British sailors serving on our naval vessels, Australians and the like, more of our forward-deployed assets in Australia,” Campbell told the US Institute of Peace in November.
Earlier this week, a new report entitled ‘Strategy: Implementing Australia’s Nuclear Submarine Programme’ has estimated that building submarines under the pact will cost over $50 billion. Canberra will also have to adhere to relevant International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards at various stages, it added.
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