US eyes talks with France on nuclear subs dispute at UN next week

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The row sees Canberra scrap a multi-billion dollar deal to purchase French submarines in favour of US nuclear subs. (AP pic)

AFP

WASHINGTON: Washington hopes to discuss its dispute with France over an aborted submarine contract at the United Nations General Assembly next week, the State Department said Friday.

France on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in a ferocious row over the deal, which saw Canberra scrap a multi-billion dollar agreement to purchase French submarines in favour of US nuclear subs.

“We hope to continue our discussion on this issue at the senior level in coming days, including at #UNGA next week,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Twitter.

The unprecedented step by Paris revealed the extent of French anger against its allies and Washington sought to ease tensions.

“We have been in close contact with our French allies. We understand their position,” Price said. “France is a vital partner & our oldest ally, and we place the highest value on our relationship.”

US President Joe Biden announced a three-way security alliance between Australia, the US, and Britain on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.

The pact is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.

The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth A$50 billion when signed in 2016.