Britain’s ‘love of France is ineradicable’: Johnson

  |  Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 |  8:28 am
       

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday played down the diplomatic rift with Paris over a new security pact with Australia and the US, saying his country’s “love of France is ineradicable”.Speaking to journalists as he flew to New York, Johnson insisted Britain and France have a “very friendly relationship”, which he described as being of “huge importance”.

The security agreement, and Australia’s related decision to tear up a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines in favor of American nuclear-powered vessels, has sparked outrage in Paris, with President Emmanuel Macron recalling France’s ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented move. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said over the weekend that Britain was a “third wheel” in the affair, and accused London of “constant opportunism”.

France has cancelled a meeting set for this week between its Defense Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace, a source at her ministry told AFP yesterday. But on the plane Johnson downplayed France’s concerns. He said the pact, dubbed AUKUS, was “not in any way meant to be zero-sum, it’s not meant to be exclusionary”. “It’s not something that anybody needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends,” he said.

UR/