French president Emmanuel Macron has delivered a brutal swipe at Scott Morrison, accusing the Australian prime minister of lying to him just six weeks after ditching a $90 billion submarine deal.
Mr Morrison angered the French government after signing a groundbreaking pact with the US and the UK, which included a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
The move essentially ripped up a lucrative deal Australia previously had with France who recalled its ambassador from Australia in response.
Now Mr Macron, who is meeting with leaders including Mr Morrison at the G20 summit in Rome, has accused the Australian prime minister of lying to him, according to the ABC.
When the French leader was asked by the national broadcaster if he believed Mr Morrison had been untruthful, Mr Macron responded: "I don't think, I know.
"The AUKUS deal was very bad news for France — but not just for France, because I think it's a very bad news for credibility of Australia and a very bad news for the trust that great partners can have with the Australians.
"I think this is detrimental to the reputation of your country and your prime minister."
Scott Morrison responds to Emmanuel Macron's accusation
Mr Morrison did not agree with suggestions he lied to the French president.
"No," the prime minister said.
"I will always stand up for Australia's interests."
US president Joe Biden on the weekend described the way the decision by the AUKUS partners was handled as "clumsy".
"I think what happened was – to use an English phrase – what we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace," Mr Biden said during a meeting with Mr Macron in Rome.
"I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn't happened."
PM insists France knew sub deal could be scrapped
Mr Morrison has previously insisted Mr Macron knew there was a possibility Australia could back out of its deal with France.
"I made it very clear, we had a lengthy dinner there in Paris, about our very significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment we're faced with," Mr Morrison told 5aa Radio in September.
France was reportedly notified of the move just hours before a joint press conference between Australia, the UK and US announcing the new deal.
Following the announcement, french foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Politico: "We had established a trusting relationship with Australia, and this trust was betrayed.
"This brutal, unilateral, unpredictable decision looks very much like what Mr Trump used to do… Allies don’t do this to each other."
Weeks later, Mr Morrison has failed to secure sideline talks with France at the G20 summit, but he has spoken to Mr Macron.
"I went up and just put my arm on his shoulder, I said, 'G'day Emmanuel and look forward to catching up over the next couple of days', which I assure you, that's the way these things work," Mr Morrison told reporters over the weekend.
"He was happy to exchange those greetings, and we've known each other for a while. But you know, it's just the process of being on the road back."
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