France slams 'inelegant' Australian leak of Macron text message

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Tensions between France and Australia on Tuesday reached their highest point yet over the recent cancellation by Canberra of a multi-billion French submarine sale, after Australian media published a leaked phone text message by President Emmanuel Macron to Australian PM Scott Morrison, in what appeared to be an attempt to imply Macron knew, contrary to what Paris has said, of looming problems with the deal.

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France on Tuesday accused Australia of using "very inelegant methods" after a text message sent by President Emmanuel Macron to Australian leader Scott Morrison was leaked in an apparent bid to imply that he knew about the collapse of a major submarine deal earlier than he maintains, reports FRANCE 24.

Media in Australia and Europe reported on the SMS which the French leader sent to Morrison two days before Australia announced that it had torn up a decade-old multi-billion-dollar contract with France to build a new fleet of submarines.

France, which reacted furiously to the cancellation, has always said it had been blindsided by the announcement, and Macron added to the furore at the weekend by accusing of Morrison of lying to him.

But the revelation of the text message Tuesday can be seen as suggesting Macron was less surprised by the cancellation than he has admitted.

"Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions?", reads the SMS sent to Morrison 48 hours before the official contract cancellation announcement which was made at a news conference.

A source close to Macron, who asked not to be named, said the leak was proof of "very inelegant methods".

Standing by earlier assurances that Macron had not been given advance warning of the cancellation, the source told AFP the SMS did not undermine that narrative.

"On the contrary, this SMS shows that the president did not know that they were going to cancel the contract," the source claimed.

Had a message existed that clearly showed that he did in fact know "they would have reported that instead".

Read more of this AFP report published by FRANCE 24.

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