Australia's Anthony Albanese stresses "trust, respect and honesty" as France's Emmanuel Macron cites willingness to "rebuild a relationship" based on mutual respect.

Australia's new Labor-led government has reached a $584 million settlement over a controversial decision to scrap a French submarine deal.
Australia's new Labor-led government has reached a $584 million settlement over a controversial decision to scrap a French submarine deal. (Reuters)

France wants to focus on the future of its ties with Australia as the two countries try to rebuild relations badly strained over a submarine contract.

Relations between the two Western allies reached a low last October when Australia cancelled a multi-billion dollar French submarine programme and opted for submarines to be built with US and British technology instead.

French President Emmanuel Macron received new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday, striking a reconciliatory note.

"He's not responsible for what happened," Macron replied, when the pair were asked if Australia should apologise. "We'll speak about the future, not the past."

In his statement at the French presidential palace, Albanese thanked Macron for the warm welcome and appeared to allude to the dispute: "Trust, respect, and honesty matter," he said.

Macron said the two would discuss defence and geo-strategic issues but also "new projects" in terms of renewable energy, critical metals, space, and the poles, with the two countries both having territories in the Antarctic.

READ MORE: Australia, France reach settlement over submarine deal dispute

Ups and downs in ties

The decision to scrap the lucrative submarine contract had incensed Paris.

Macron reacted with fury back then, recalling the French ambassador to Australia, accusing the then-Australian prime minister, conservative Scott Morrison, of lying, while the French foreign minister said Canberra had "stabbed its ally in the back".

But Morrison's party lost elections in May and his Labour successor has pledged to rebuild ties with France.

Albanese announced earlier this month that French submarine maker Naval Group had agreed to a "fair and an equitable settlement" of 555 million euros ($584 million) for Australia ending the decade-old submarine contract.

Paris, which has 1 million citizens living in territories spanning the Indian and Pacific Ocean and 8,000 troops stationed there, had made Australia a cornerstone of its Indo-Pacific strategy to counter the rise of China.

France has supplied war planes to India and Indonesia in particular to build military ties with countries in the region.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies