HomeRome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud

Rome G20: Morrison briefly greets French President Emmanuel Macron amid submarine feud

Scott Morrison has revealed what he said to the French President when he ran into him in Rome – in the leaders’ first encounter since a “clumsy” action by the PM.

Scott Morrison has said “g’day” to Emmanuel Macron during their first face-to-face encounter since Australia tore up a French submarine deal.

The Prime Minister again defended his government’s decision to abandon the French submarine contract despite US President Joe Biden describing its handling as “clumsy”.

Mr Morrison briefly greeted the French president at the G20 Summit in Rome but the two leaders will not have a bilateral meeting as tensions between the two continues to simmer.

Last month, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom formed a new partnership – AUKUS – which meant Canberra would scrap its $90b submarine deal with Paris in favour of nuclear technologies made available by London and Washington.

France was blindsided by the deal having been advised on the eve of the AUKUS announcement and, as a result, ambassadors were pulled from Canberra and Washington.

Mr Biden ridiculed the handling of the deal in a meeting with the French President in Italy, admitting it “was not done with a lot of grace”.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through,” he said.

“I honest to God did not know you had not been.”

But Mr Morrison defended his government’s diplomatic process and insisted the United States were involved in the strategic handling.

“Australia made the right decision in on our interests to ensure we have the right submarine capability to deal with our strategic interests,” he told reporters in Rome.

“There was never an easy way for us, I think, to get to a point where we had to disappoint a good friend and partner in France that we wouldn’t be proceeding with that contract.

“It was always a difficult decision for Australia, it was the right decision for Australia — we worked closely with the United States and the United Kingdom and we kept them up to date.”

The Prime Minister said he didn’t request a bilateral meeting with the French President at the summit given the tension and wanting to respect Mr Macron’s frustrations though the two briefly greeted during an event in Rome.

“I said g‘day,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Rome.

“He was having a chat to someone, I went up and just put my arm on his shoulder and just said ‘g’day, Emmanuel,’ and ‘look forward to catching up over the next couple of days.’

“That’s the way these events tend to work and he was happy to exchange those greetings.”

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