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France announces return of ambassador to Australia

Paris, Oct 7 (IANS) The French Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday the return of its ambassador to Australia after "extensive consultations" over the past three weeks on the strategic consequences of Australia's decision to scrap a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Paris.

"The deep confidence crisis caused by Australia's decision will take a long time to resolve and will require concrete actions," the ministry said in a press release.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has instructed his country's ambassador to return to Australia to redefine the terms of the two countries' relationship and to defend France's interests in the wake of Australia's breach of contract.

Australia, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States have recently announced a new security partnership known as AUKUS, whose first initiative will be the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia.

Australia subsequently scrapped its 2016 agreement with France on the purchase of 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.

Since the AUKUS pact was unveiled, France, outraged by the abrupt move without notice, has accused Australia and the US of "lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt" and recalled its ambassadors to the two countries.

Following a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Joe Biden, France's ambassador already returned to the United States on September 29.