Australia Confirms Withdrawal From France Submarine Deal

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that the country has cancelled a $66 billion submarine deal with France and will instead develop nuclear-powered submarines using US and British technology.

"It's not a change of mentality; it's a change of need," he stated of the decision not to proceed with the Attack Class submarine and instead pursue this course.

The news reaffirmed a decision that the French government termed as "regrettable" and that French firm Naval Group, which had been contracted to build 12 state-of-the-art Attack Class submarines, described as "disappointment."

Morrison said France "remains an incredibly important partner in the Pacific" but acknowledged the relationship between Canberra and Paris has now taken a hit.

"We share a tremendous enthusiasm for and dedication to our Pacific family, and I look forward to and want to see us continue once we've moved past what is obviously a very sad and disappointing choice for France," he said.

"That is something I am aware of. It is something I admire. However, as Prime Minister, I am responsible for making decisions that are in the best interests of Australia's national security. I'm sure France would follow suit."

Morrison also revealed that Australia would purchase long-range US Tomahawk cruise missiles for the first time in order to fight China's expanding influence in the Indo-Pacific area.

Australia's move to beef up its military arsenal, which comes amid already soaring defence spending, is expected to aggravate the country's tense relationship with China.

In the aftermath of the announcements, Morrison extended a "open invitation" for discussions to Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying Canberra officials have begun dialogue with Beijing, despite the fact that Australian ministers have been frozen out by their Chinese counterparts in recent months.

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