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France recalls its ambassadors to U.S., Australia over submarine dispute

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France announced Friday it is recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after it said its Indo-Pacific interests had been undermined by a new agreement made by the Biden administration on nuclear submarines.

"At the request of the President of the Republic, I am recalling to Paris without delay our ambassadors to the United States and to Australia for consultations," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

"This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15th September by Australia and the United States."

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced the security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom.

It will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology that the U.S. had only previously shared with Britain. Nuclear submarines offer more stealth capabilities, speed and range than traditional submarines, and just a handful of countries, including China and Russia, have nuclear-powered submarines.

Le Drian said that this new pact was an affront to France's agreement with Australia.

"The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States meant to launch studies on a possible future cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe," he said.

The administration has been in contact with France since the country recalled its ambassadors, said Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, in a statement Friday. She said the administration will "continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance."

"France is our oldest ally and one of our strongest partners, and we share a long history of shared democratic values and a commitment to working together to address global challenges," Horne said.

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