The new Australian Prime Minister, speaking to Sky News Australia, said the pair had had “an engagement already”, saying that both “congratulated” each other for their respective election victories. He claimed Australia and Emmanuel Macron will “develop a strong relationship” in the future despite last year’s sudden abandonment of a French-Australian military provisions agreement. Australia, under Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ditched a deal with France in favour of the AUKUS agreement with the US and the UK, which will provide nuclear submarines in what many view as a defence against a threatening China.
Mr Albanese said: “Emmanuel Macron reached out very soon after the election result was clear and we’ve had an engagement already.
“I continue to engage with world leaders. I thank them for their very warm congratulations I have received, person to person.
“This is a Government that has got to work on day one, literally. And we’ve already got those programmes underway.
“We’ll have more to say on how we develop those relationships going into the future in the coming days.
“President Macron and I will develop a strong relationship. I’m confident of that. I also congratulated him for when he was re-elected and I think that decision by the French people is a good thing.”
Mr Albanese was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia on Monday this week, May 23.
A day later, he flew to Tokyo, Japan, as part of the Quad summit, meeting with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The countries, among other discussions, spoke of unity in the face of the Chinese threat to peace in the Pacific region.
Mr Albanese deflected questions over whether France should join the summit, but said he was “confident” of a good relationship between the two nations.
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In April of last year, France led La Perouse naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal alongside the four members of the summit.
But relations were made frosty by a sudden move to a defence pact with the US and the UK, which was announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region.
French politicians were in an uproar over the late move, with officials saying France had been “betrayed” and “stabbed in the back”.
Conservative MP Tom Hunt slammed the comments at the time, branding the complaining French politicians as “childish”.
He said: “I think a number of the French politicians have actually acted in an incredibly childish way with regards to this particular partnership.”
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Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison abandoned a $90 million contract with France to build 12 diesel-powered submarines in favour of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement.
At a G20 summit in Rome following the deal-switch, Mr Biden apologised to Mr Macron for the “clumsy” handling of the negotiations.
He said he was “under the impression that France had been informed” about Australia’s intention to ditch the contract “long before” the AUKUS pact was revealed publicly.
Mr Morrison then claimed Mr Biden had been aware of “the status of the conversations and discussions with the French government”.