“What’s at play in this affair, this crisis … are strategic issues before being commercial issues,” Attal told BFMTV. “The question is ... the forces present, the balance, in the Indo-Pacific where part of our future is at play, and our relations with China.”
The deal by the United States reflects the American pivot toward the Indo-Pacific region, seen as increasingly strategic as China bolsters its influence there. Yet France feels the deal steps on its feet in a region where it has long had a strong presence that it, too, is working to bolster, in addition to a five-year contract with Australia.
“France is a country of the Indo-Pacific,” Attal said, noting the French territory of New Caledonia, the French citizens living in the region and the French military forces based there.
The Indo-Pacific is also an issue for Europe, he said.
Macron will be seeking explanations from Biden about what led to a “major rupture in confidence,” the spokesman added. “There was a moment of shock, of anger ... Now, we must advance.”
On Friday night, Le Drian railed against what France views as a betrayal marked by “duplicity, disdain and lies” in the submarine affair.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that France “would have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns” about the capability of France’s Attack class subs, which he said can't meet Australia's strategic interests.