Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Paris [France], July 2 (ANI): French President Emmanuel Macron received on Friday Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss the future ties between the two countries, in an effort to rebuild relations, strained by Canberra's decision to ditch a submarine contract with Paris.

The bilateral relationship deteriorated when Australia last year cancelled a billion-dollar deal for submarines with French-owned shipbuilder Naval Group for a trilateral security pact with the US and the UK, leading to one of the most heated diplomatic crises between the two countries.

The French presidential palace, the Elysee, said Macron and Albanese reaffirmed their commitment to build a "closer and stronger bilateral relationship based on mutual trust and respect.""The new Australia position, proactive, ambitious, offers us an opportunity to move forward together on new projects within the framework of initiatives launched these recent years," Macron said.

For his part, Albanese noted that his visit "represents a new start for our countries' relationship.""Australia's relationship with France matters. Trust, respect and honesty matter. This is how I will approach my relations," he said. In response, Macron said to the press that "we will speak about the future, not the past."In a joint statement, the two countries said that they have agreed to establish a new agenda for cooperation.

"To take the bilateral relationship forward, we agree to establish a new agenda for cooperation based on three pillars: defence and security; resilience and climate action; and education and culture," the statement said.

"Australia and France will shape a new defence relationship and strengthen our collaboration and exchange on shared security interests, including through operational engagement and intelligence sharing," it added.

The two countries said they are determined to be active in regional fora and to enhance security cooperation with Pacific countries, in particular on maritime surveillance with regional agencies, and in the Indian Ocean, including in partnership with India.

"We will support each other's deployments and conduct more joint maritime activities in support of the rules-based global order. We will also explore initiatives to deepen and facilitate better reciprocal access to our defence facilities. This will build on our long-established mutual logistical support arrangements," the statement added.

It said that the two countries will explore initiatives to increase defence industry cooperation to support and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces.

"We will explore cooperation on strategic space issues, such as space domain awareness, to promote a safe, stable and secure space domain, and ensure freedom of access to, and action in, space," the joint statement read.

It also vowed to deepen cooperation on a range of civilian and defence issues of common interest, including through the FRANZ (France-Australia-New Zealand) arrangement to deliver coordinated humanitarian assistance to support the Pacific to respond to disasters.

"Enhanced dialogue will foster new prospects for economic and scientific cooperation in sectors such as maritime transport, space, artificial intelligence and quantum," the statement said. (ANI)

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