French officials rage over Australian leak of Macron text messages | France

Elysée officials have expressed outrage at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to leak a private text message from French President Emmanuel Macron as the diplomatic rift between the two countries deepened.

“Confidence has been completely shattered,” a close adviser to Macron told French media on Tuesday. “Revealing an SMS exchange between heads of state or government is a rather crude and unconventional tactic.”

The adviser told Le Parisien that it “would never get into the head” of the French president to reveal communications of this kind. “It’s not the kind of thing that is likely to improve relations between France and Australia,” they said.

In the text, two days before the announcement of the Aukus safety partnership and the cancellation of a major French contract for the supply of submarines to Australia, Macron Morrison asked if he could expect good or bad news about the submarines.

Its publication came after Macron told reporters he “knew” that Morrison had lied to him about plans with the United States and Britain to acquire nuclear submarines. Morrison dismissed the claim, saying he “did not intend to police Australia”.

French media described the text message leak as “spectacular and extremely rare”, saying it appeared to be aimed at demonstrating that Macron had already been informed that the contract might not continue even before it was torn up .

But the Elysée official insisted the text rather showed that Macron “did not know what stage the discussions had reached” just two days before Australia terminated the $ 90 billion (£ 49 billion) deal for 12 conventionally operated submarines.

Another French government source told Agence-France Presse that if there was a message that clearly showed Macron actually knew it, “they would have reported it instead”. The source added: “We knew the Australians had some issues but they only concerned technical aspects and the schedule, as with any major contract.”

These were exactly the questions that the text message referred to, prior to a discussion with submarine manufacturer Naval Group scheduled for the following day, the source said. It is not clear what response Morrison gave to the message.

The Elysée also rejected Canberra’s report that it made several attempts to contact Paris to warn of the impending announcement. The official told Le Parisien that only a phone call had come through to the palace at. 11 on a Wednesday – during Macron’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“It is hard to believe that the Australian Prime Minister has not been informed of this restriction,” the official said. “He knew very well that the president was not available.”

It was later that day, the adviser said, that Paris had learned that the contract was being terminated and that a press conference was to be held during the afternoon. “It’s a strange way of going about things,” the Elysée source told Le Parisien.

“France had no opportunity to respond or come up with a counter-proposal, which we had the means to do. Once again, it is not the election we are condemning – it is a sovereign decision. That’s the way to do it. ”

The Elysée also said Morrison could have sought a conciliatory meeting with Macron in recent days, at the G20 summit in Rome or the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. “The president was waiting for a proposal from the prime minister that did not come,” the source said.

Morrison spoke with Macron on the phone last week, and the French president used this call to urge the Australian government to propose concrete steps to repair the relationship.

Morrison insists he “made very clear” to Macron at a dinner in Paris in mid-June, “that a conventional diesel-powered submarine would not meet Australia’s strategic requirements”.

But the Australian prime minister also said he did not have the freedom to reveal to Macron at the time that Australia would work with the United States and Britain to acquire nuclear-powered submarines because those plans had not yet been finalized and were being held “in confidence”. “.

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