France seeks EU allies amid submarine dispute
Paris, Sep 21: Tensions in the trans-Atlantic alliance overshadowed the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly, with EU foreign ministers set to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday evening.
Earlier on Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said there are questions that need to be answered.
She told CNN that "one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable. We want to know what happened and why."
World leaders and top diplomats are in New York for the 76th UN General Assembly, which will kick off with key speeches on Tuesday.
'Crisis of trust'
In a press conference ahead of the meeting on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was unable to restrain his contempt over the security pact between the US, the UK and Australia, describing it as "a crisis of trust."
"We thought unilateralism, unpredictability, brutality and not respecting your partner was part of the past but it continues so we want to understand," he said, sharply criticizing both former US President Donald Trump and his successor President Joe Biden.
Biden is due to hold a phone call about the crisis with French President Emmanuel Macron later this week.
What is the dispute about?
The pact, known as AUKUS, thwarted a deal France had signed with Australia in 2016 to build conventional submarines — with Canberra instead opting for nuclear-powered submarines from the US.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had acted in his country's best interests.
He said his government "had deep and grave concerns" that the $37 billion (€31.5 billion) contract for France to build 12 conventional submarines "was not going to meet our strategic interests."