Tensions rocked the Western alliance as European Union leaders backed France in its anger over a scrapping mega-contract.
The tensions in the transatlantic alliance overshadowed the beginning of the UN General Assembly week, after Australia last week canceled a multi-billion-dollar contract for French submarines, instead opting for US nuclear-powered ones with London in a pact known as Aukus.
The deal was for $66 billion, with replacement purchases made from the US and UK.
European Council chief Charles Michel said the bloc would seek answers, saying that allies needed to be sure of “transparency and trust.”
“We are observing a clear lack of transparency and loyalty,” he told reporters.
European Union foreign ministers, meeting in New York, “expressed clear solidarity with France,” top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said.
“This announcement ran counter to calls for greater cooperation with the European Union in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has accused the United States of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing, and has no separate meeting scheduled with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Le Drian called on Europeans to “think hard” about alliances, saying the contract showed “the persistence of reflexes from a time we had hoped had passed.”
Bernd Lange, a German lawmaker and head of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the snub was a “kind of an attack against European interests,” and said the move would delay a trade deal between the EU and Australia.
“The question of trust is now occurring and some members could ask for more safety nets and more safeguards in such an agreement, so I guess the dialogue and the negotiation will take more time,” Lange said.