Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed their new security ties after the announcement last week that Washington would provide Canberra with cutting-edge technology for nuclear-powered submarines as part of a trilateral deal with the United Kingdom.
“The United States has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia,” Biden said Tuesday ahead of a bilateral meeting with Morrison on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York.
In his address to the general assembly earlier, Biden made no direct reference to the controversial New Security Pact, under which the United States agreed to share nuclear propulsion technology for submarines in a move. designed to contain China.
The deal has infuriated Paris, and Biden has yet to organize an appeal with bubbling French president Emmanuel Macron.
Morrison, meanwhile, has been accused of canceling a contract with Paris for the supply of 12 submarines and replacing it with an agreement for nuclear-powered submarines with the United States and the United Kingdom. .
Morrison came under a fierce attack on Tuesday from former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who, writing in Le Monde, said the Prime Minister behaved in a cavalier manner that would play into the hands of the Chinese propagandists.
Rudd accused Morrison of failing to follow “basic diplomatic protocol by not informing the French government of his decision.”
“Such a failure is not acceptable between adversaries, it is even less so between allies. In addition, Morrison failed to understand the broader implications of his decision for foreign policy, and it is perhaps the most appalling in history, ”he said.
The attack came as Macron took his first steps in response to the snub, speaking with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in what appeared to be an effort to consolidate a rival Indo-French alliance in the Indo-France. Pacific – and secure a profitable nuclear deal on hold.
The two leaders had pledged to “act jointly” in the Indo-Pacific region, the French presidency said.
Macron would have assured Modi to continue “his commitment to strengthen India’s strategic autonomy, including its industrial and technological base, within the framework of a close relationship based on trust and mutual respect.” France has bid on a $ 7 billion contract to build six nuclear submarines with India.
Macron’s office said that the two countries’ common approach in the Euro-Indian relationship “aims to promote regional stability and the rule of law, while excluding any form of hegemony.”
The phone call sounded like a potential French effort to back up its bid for SSN submarines and even form a separate alliance to the Aukus Security Pact announced last week.
Naval Group, the French company excluded from the Australian deal, has already worked with Indian state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders to deliver six Kalvari submarines valued at 230 billion rupees ($ 3.13 billion). Two of them have already been launched, two are undergoing sea trials and two are under construction.
The projects include technology transfers from the French company to its Indian partners.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly and her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh discussed a Naval Group tender launched in June by the Indian Navy for indigenous Project 76 SSNs fitted with a new reactor nuclear. The United States has so far refused to share the technology with India, although it has now agreed to do so with Australia.
Delhi wants the submarines because it is worried about the rise of China, whose military ships are increasing joint exercises with the Pakistani navy in the Indian Ocean.
In 2017, Indian Navy Chief Adm Sunil Lanba visited a French shipyard to take a closer look at their new Barracuda-class SSNs. However, it also sent probes to the United States for nuclear reactor propulsion technology for submarines and surface ships.
Macron’s appeal to Modi came as French opposition politicians criticized him for missing the scale of the threat to Australia’s contract.
Modi is preparing to travel to the United States to meet with Biden for their first in-person bilateral summit on Thursday. Modi is also expected to have bilateral conversations with Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. On Friday, the four leaders will sit in the White House for the first summit of the Quadrilateral Forum, or the Quad. The four leaders met digitally in March of this year.
India expressed concern that the Aukus partnership could mean downgrading for the Quad.