Australia announces return of French ambassador to help repair bilateral relations

Band Colin Packham

CANBERRA, October 7 (Reuters)Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Thursday said the return of the French Ambassador to Canberra would help mend relations between the two countries which were damaged when Australia canceled a submarine contract from 40 billion dollars.

Australia last month backed off an agreement with the French naval group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and UK technology after entering into a partnership. of trilateral security with these two countries.

The cancellation angered France, which accused both Australia and the United States of stabbing him in the back and Paris recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.

France announced on Wednesday that Jean-Pierre Thebault would return to Canberra but did not set a date.

“We will work with France to move our relationship forward. We recognize that it will take time and continued commitment following our decision on the submarine. The return of the Ambassador is a welcome step in this process,” said Payne in a statement.

In solidarity with France, the EU postponed the next round of talks with Australia on a free trade agreement last week.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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