Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not take “sleigh rides” from France as he defended his position over a failed submarine deal that sparked a diplomatic crisis.
The comments came after French President Emmanuel Macron Morrison accused him of lying to him about signing a multi-billion-euro French deal for a pact with the United States and the United Kingdom, Australia’s nuclear submarines would supply, had wrecked.
The defense pact presented in September led France to withdraw its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra.
When asked by a journalist in Rome whether Macron thought Morrison lied, the French president replied, “I don’t think I know.”
Macron had recently emphasized that he had “a lot of respect” and “friendship” for the people in Australia.
Morrison responded by saying he would not take “insults” or “sleigh rides”.
“I have to say that I think that the statements that challenged Australia’s integrity and the slanders that have been inflicted on Australia are not mine, I have broad shoulders, I can handle that, but I cannot cope with these slanders Sledding from Australia, “said Morrison.
Morrison also defended the deal as protecting Australia and fulfilling the country’s “strategic needs” in a “complex” region.
“I don’t apologize for that. I need to make sure Aus has the best submarine skills in one of the most complex parts of the world in the Indo-Pacific,” said Morrison, adding that there has been delays in the deal with France, Naval Group and Australia have opted for an “alternative” despite the reaction of the French government.
US President Joe Biden wanted to ease tensions with France over the submarine deal at a meeting on the fringes of the G20 over the weekend.
The US president said “what we did was awkward” and stated that the deal was “not made with much grace”.
“I got the impression that France was informed well in advance,” added Biden.
An Australian newspaper recently reported that Morrison tried to let Macron know about the defense pact before making its announcement, but the French president was unavailable.
Australia’s opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese suggested that Morrison had leaked Macron’s private text message and criticized a breakdown in relations between Australia and democratic allies.