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Return of French ambassador to aid repair of bilateral relationship, Australia says

CANBERRA

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday the return of France’s ambassador to Canberra will help restore relations between the two nations which have been damaged when Australia canceled a US$40 billion (RM167 billion) submarine contract.

Australia last month walked away from a deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of traditional submarines and will alternatively build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after putting a trilateral protection partnership with those two countries.

The cancellation angered France, which accused each Australia and the United States of stabbing it in the again and Paris recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.

France said on Wednesday that Jean-Pierre Thebault would return to Canberra however did not set a date.

“We will work with France to cross ahead with our relationship. We understand this will take time and ongoing engagement following our submarine decision. The return of the Ambassador is a welcome step in this process,” Payne said in a statement.

In solidarity with France, the EU last week postponed the subsequent round of talks with Australia over a free trade deal.

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