France says UK’s Johnson offered to ‘re-establish cooperation’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday that he wants to “re-establish cooperation”, Macron’s office said amid a diplomatic crisis over a submarine contract with Australia.
Macron was left furious last week after Australia ditched a mega-deal to buy diesel submarines from France in favour of American nuclear-powered ones — secured during secret negotiations facilitated by Britain.
In the conversation, which the Elysee said came at Johnson’s request, the prime minister said he hoped for cooperation “in line with our values and our common interests,” such as the battle against climate change, securing the Indo-Pacific region and the fight against terrorism.
Macron told Johnson that “he is awaiting his proposals”, his office said in a brief statement.
French fury over what it sees as a “stab in the back” over the submarine contract saw Macron recall the French ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented diplomatic protest.
But the French envoy in London remained at her post, with France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune dismissing London as a mere “third wheel” in the deal and a “junior partner” to the US.
The submarine spat brought relations between Paris and London to their worst since Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
Brexit has led to several disagreements between both nations, notably over fishing rights as well as the still vexing issue of trade between mainland Britain and the province of Northern Ireland.
Migrant flows have also been a major irritant between Paris and London.
There remains, however, a willingness on both sides to continue close cooperation in defence matters, experts say.