France canceled an event celebrating US-French relations amid outrage over a scrapped submarine deal

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France canceled an event celebrating US-French relations amid outrage over a scrapped submarine deal
French Marine officers wait atop "Le Vigilant" nuclear submarine at L'Ile Longue military base, near Brest, Brittany. Associated Press
  • France is upset with the US and others over a lucrative submarine deal that was upended.
  • Australia has decided to acquire nuclear-powered subs with US and UK support, abandoning plans to buy French-built subs.
  • Amid tensions, France canceled a reception in Washington, DC celebrating relations with the US.

France is upset with the US and others after it was cut out of a lucrative international defense deal. Amid tensions, France decided to cancel an event celebrating ties with the US in Washington, DC, The New York Times first reported Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for the French embassy told Insider "the celebration of the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes has been made more sober," explaining that "a reception on Friday Sept. 17 at the Residence of France, in Washington D.C., has been canceled."

The move comes after a submarine deal worth tens of billions of dollars went sideways.

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France and Australia agreed in 2016 for a fleet of French-built conventional submarines. A production contract was signed in 2019, and the multi-billion-dollar deal was reconfirmed by French and Australian leadership only two weeks ago.

But, this week, the US, UK, and Australia announced a new security partnership that upended the deal with France and put Australia on a path to acquire nuclear-powered submarines elsewhere.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that "the American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France" was "regrettable," adding in another discussion of the latest developments that "this brutal, unilateral, and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do."

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He also expressed frustration with Australia, which he said "betrayed" French trust. He called the Australian decision to scrap the original deal a "stab in the back."

French officials in Washington told The New York Times that France was blindsided by the Biden administration's moves and that US actions undermine bilateral trust. US officials, however, have insisted that they were in contact with their French counterparts ahead of time.

Under the current circumstances, an event commemorating the Battle of the Capes, a decisive naval battle that helped the Americans secure their independence from Great Britain, and the alliance between the US and has been canceled, a French official told The Times.

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The French official said that having an event celebrating ties between the US and France would have been "ridiculous" given the state of relations between them.

France's top naval officer, who came to Washington for the celebration originally scheduled for Friday, is reportedly returning to Paris early.

The French embassy said that while the reception in DC has been canceled, other parts of the celebration, including a wreath laying in Annapolis and port visits by two French naval vessels, will continue as planned.

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Speaking to reporters Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that "we value our relationship and our partnership with France on a variety of issues facing the global community."

Update: This article has been updated to include details and comment from the French embassy in Washington, DC.

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