French Ambassador returns to Washington after US-France dispute over AUKUS deal

French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne has returned to Washington after almost two weeks of absence amid the dispute between two countries over the US submarine contract with Australia, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the airport.

Washington [US], September 30 : Etienne declined to answer journalists’ questions upon his arrival at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Wednesday. The ambassador was called back to Paris on September 17, two days after Australia abandoned a $66 billion agreement on submarines with France in favour of a partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom under the trilateral security alliance AUKUS. France considered the move a “stab in the back,” and also recalled its ambassador from Australia.
On September 22, following a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden on the matter, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to send Etienne back to Washington.
Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the issue with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, noting that the restoration of confidence between the two states “would take time and action.”
In mid-September, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia declared the formation of AUKUS as a platform for defence and security cooperation. The announcement came as Canberra unilaterally withdrew from the $66 billion agreement on submarines with Paris in favour of the supply of vehicles within the framework of the alliance.

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