The French ambassador calls Australia’s efforts to keep the US submarine treaty secret “childish.”

The French envoy to Canberra called Australia’s claim that it couldn’t tell France about its top-secret talks with the US and Britain to build nuclear submarines “childish.”

Last month, Australia backed out of a $40 billion deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines, opting instead to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines using American and British technology, as part of a trilateral security partnership with those two countries.

The cancellation angered France, which accused Australia and the United States of stabbing it in the back by holding talks without informing them.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he did raise concerns with Paris over the troubled Naval Group contract, but he could not reveal discussions with the United States until that strategic partnership had been agreed.

But France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, who Paris recalled last month, said France was a close security partner of the United States, Australia and Britain and could be trusted with such information.

“It’s childish to say that it was impossible to consult France,” Thebault told ABC radio on Friday, adding that U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said the matter could have been handled better.

“They have officially stated things should have been done differently. There should have been consultations.”

Thebault will soon return to Australia where he said he would test Canberra’s resolve to repair ties.

A representative for Australia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Thursday said she welcomed Thebault’s return as an important first step in repairing relations. L1N2R302M

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