French Fume Over Australian Leak of Macron Text

Ambassador describes 'unprecedented new low' in France-Australia relationship
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2021 6:19 AM CDT
French Fume Over Australian Leak of Macron Text
G20 leaders from left, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson perform the traditional coin toss in front of the Trevi...   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared a private text message from French President Emmanuel Macron in an attempt to defend himself from Macron's claims that he's a liar—which only further widened the rift between the two countries. "You don't behave like this on personal exchanges of leaders who are allies. But maybe it is just confirmation that we were never seen as an ally," French ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault said Wednesday, per AFP. He added Tuesday's leak, representing an "unprecedented new low," should serve as a warning to other heads of state that what is said in confidence will be "weaponized against you one day."

In the text, sent two days before the announcement of the Australia-UK-US security pact, Macron had asked Morrison whether he could expect good or bad news on a $66 million deal that would've seen France provide 12 conventionally-powered submarines to Australia. The leak appeared to be an attempt by Morrison to suggest Macron had prior knowledge that that deal would be torn up since Australia will be provided with its first nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact, reports the Guardian. But a Macron adviser told Le Parisien that it instead showed Macron, who claims he was blindsided, did not yet know the outcome.

Morrison's response to the text wasn't provided, but Aussie officials said there were multiple attempts to contact Paris before the announcement. Macron's adviser, however, said only one call came in during Macron's weekly cabinet meeting, on the morning of the announcement, when Morrison "knew very well the president was unavailable." "Confidence has been completely shattered," the source said. Morrison might've made up for the blunder in seeking a meeting with Macron at the G20 in Rome or the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the adviser added. But "the president was waiting for a proposition from the prime minister, which did not come." (Macron and President Biden appear to be on better terms.)

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