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US deal with Australia shows continuation of ‘American first’ course, says French ministry

The US acts not as partners, Clement Beaune said

PARIS, September 18. /TASS/. The US’ approach to the deal with Australia on submarines highlights that the new Washington’s administration still sticks to the principle ‘America first’, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune said in an interview broadcast by the parliamentary TV channel Public Senat on Saturday.

"Washington protects its interests. The deal highlights that the principle ‘America first’ remains in force," he said.

"The US acts not as partners, but we are not going to wait for Washington to change its course. We from our side should be acting as Europeans," minister of state for European affairs noted. "We should fortify our ability for the strategic autonomy," he said, adding that "the Europeans should strengthen their ability to respond, strive for autonomy in the field of defense strategy."

On September 15, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced the formation of a new security partnership to be known as AUKUS. Australia particularly plans to use US and British technologies to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, the first of which will become operational in 2036, as well as to re-equip its armed forces with US-made cruise missiles. Canberra’s plan breaks an earlier defense contract inked with France, the biggest in Australia's history. Paris has slammed the move as "a stab in the back."

Amid the submarines deal France has immediately recalled for consultations its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.