France on Thursday decried the “regrettable decision” of the US, UK, and Australia to form a new Indo-Pacific security alliance that excludes Paris.
Top French government officials emphasized the move “reinforces the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear.”
The formation of AUKUS means Australia will discard its Future Submarine Program (FSP) with France, and assemble eight nuclear-powered submarines with its new allies.
In a joint statement, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly, the French ministers for foreign affairs and armed forces, said the US’ decision led to the “exclusion of a European ally and partner … at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”
They said the move “signals a lack of consistency which France can only notice and regret.”
They went on to say that the decision was “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust.”
“The regrettable decision which has just been announced on the FSP only reinforces the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear,” read the statement.
US President Joe Biden was joined by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison by video as he unveiled the alliance on Wednesday night.
Stressing its importance, the three leaders said the pact will help ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.
While none of them mentioned China in their remarks, the need to bolster the region against encroachment by Beijing was underscored throughout the news conference.
The US has also been seeking to boost its partnerships with other regional nations, including Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.
In an effort to shore up support, French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will convene a summit on European defense involving all relevant continental powers.