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    Australian PM to visit France to fix damaged relations

    CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (AP) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (AP; pic below) said yesterday he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron next week to reset a bilateral relationship that was damaged when the previous Australian government cancelled a submarine contract.

    Albanese said Macron had invited him to visit France while he is in Europe to attend a NATO summit in Spain. “We do need to reset. We’ve already had very constructive discussions.

    We’ve brought to a close the arrangements that were in place over submarines,” Albanese told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

    France responded with fury when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in September that Australia was cancelling a AUD90 billion Australian dollar (USD62 billion) contract for a French state-owned company to build a fleet of diesel-electric submarines.

    Instead, Australia had struck a deal with the United States (US) and Britain to provide submarines powered by US nuclear technology.

    France temporarily withdrew its ambassadors from the US and Australia. Macron accused Morrison of lying to him over the French contract that was awarded in 2016. Morrison denied the accusation.

    US President Joe Biden told Macron weeks later that the US had been “clumsy” in its handling of the Australian submarine alliance.

    Biden said he thought Macron had been informed long before the deal was announced.

    Albanese’s Labor Party came to power in elections on May 21. His government announced it had agreed to pay France’s Naval Group a EUR555 million settlement for breaking the contract.

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