NEW YORK (VG) – I understand that France is frustrated, as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told VG. This is the first time he has spoken of the conflict between France and the United States, after Australia dropped the giant submarine agreement with France last week.
France has reacted strongly to Australia turning to the US and Britain instead, and it will now have access to technology that allows Australia to buy reactor-powered submarines from the two nuclear powers.
French President Emmanuel Macron responded by recalling his ambassadors from the United States and Australia, which are still far from severing diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Conflict between members
Once again, Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Secretary General of NATO, has to deal with a violent struggle between the main member states of the alliance. This week he is attending the United Nations summit in New York.
He met with Norwegian media after a separate meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Now he hopes that the conflict between France and the United States will be quickly settled:
I understand that France is disappointed. But the important thing is that 30 allied countries stand together in NATO to deal with new security challenges, that we live in a more dangerous world, and that the global balance of power is changing. That is why NATO is intensifying its cooperation with Australia and other countries in the Pacific region, says Stoltenberg.
France summons the ambassadors of the United States and Australia
When asked by VG whether there were internal consultations with France in NATO before the United States secured an agreement with Australia, Stoltenberg replied as follows:
– I will not go into what is a contractual relationship between a NATO country, France, and a partner country, Australia. Stoltenberg answers, but what is important is that we must cooperate with Australia.
He wants to isolate the conflict to be on the verge of concluding a new contract for the purchase of military equipment, in this case submarines.
But at the same time, it is known from internal NATO operations that France and the United States have completely different views on the challenge that China poses to NATO and Europe through its military rearmament.
US President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have taken a much more confrontational line against China than the French president has.
China’s growth is important to countries like Australia, but it’s also important to NATO directly. China has the second largest defense budget and the largest naval power. China is neither an adversary nor an enemy. The NATO Secretary General says we have to take into account the consequences of China’s strong growth.
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