France said it was recalling its ambassadors in the United States and Australia for consultations following Australia's decision to scrap a big French conventional submarine purchase in favour of nuclear subs built with US technology.

In this photo provided by US Navy, French submarine FNS Amethyste (S605) transits the Thames River in preparation to arrive at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., September 1, 2021.
In this photo provided by US Navy, French submarine FNS Amethyste (S605) transits the Thames River in preparation to arrive at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., September 1, 2021. (AP)

France has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultation, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced, after Canberra ditched a deal to buy French submarines in favour of US vessels.

Le Drian said in a statement that the decision was made to immediately recall the two French ambassadors due to "the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on September 15 by Australia and the United States.”

US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.

The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth $36.5 billion (31 billion euros, Aus$50 billion) when signed in 2016.

READ MORE: EU to unveil Asia-Pacific plan after Australia scraps deal with France

US regrets France's decision 

The United States regrets France's decision and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve differences between the two countries, a White House official said on Friday.

"We regret that they have taken this step, we will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance," a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

'A stab in the back'

The French ambassador recalls from the United States and Australia, key allies of France, are unprecedented.

France on Thursday accused Australia of back-stabbing and Washington of Donald Trump-era behaviour over the submarine deal.

"It's really a stab in the back," Le Drian said Thursday. "We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been betrayed.”

France has also called off a gala at its ambassador's house in Washington scheduled for Friday.

The event was supposed to celebrate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle in the American Revolution, in which France played a key role.

READ MORE: France says US torpedoed its submarine deal with Australia

Source: AFP