WASHINGTON – French officials in Washington canceled a Friday evening gala at their sprawling compound over frustration with the new security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
A French official confirmed to CNBC that the event, which was slated to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, will no longer take place at the embassy in Washington.
“Other parts of the celebration are still ongoing,” including a wreath-laying ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, the official said. Two other events involving a French destroyer in Baltimore and a French submarine in Norfolk’s harbor have not been canceled.
The New York Times was the first to report the cancellation.
A woman runs in front of the French Embassy in Washington, DC on May 8, 2020.
Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images
The development comes after France expressed outrage over a newly minted trilateral partnership that, in part, ends a long-standing submarine contract between Australia and France and replaces it with a deal between the U.S. and U.K.
The U.S. and U.K. agreed Wednesday to assist Canberra in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, which will allow Australia’s navy to help counter Chinese nuclear-powered vessels in the region.
“It was a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed,” France minister of foreign affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian told radio station Franceinfo Thursday morning.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday that he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken to their French counterparts about the new security pact ahead of its unveiling.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hold a joint press conference at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, on June 25, 2021.
Andrew Harnik | AFP | Getty Images
“I’ll leave it to our Australian partners to describe why they sought this new technology. But as the president said and I want to emphasize again, we cooperate incredibly closely with France on many shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific but also around the world,” Blinken said.
“We’re going to continue to do so, we place fundamental value on that relationship, on that partnership and we will carry forward in the days ahead,” the nation’s top diplomat added.