French president's subtle dig at Scott Morrison as leaders hail 'new dawn'
Anthony Albanese has met with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris as the leaders repaired Australian-French ties after the Morrison government backed out of a deal for a French naval group to build Australia's new fleet of submarines.
The two leaders were all smiles, winks, laughter and cordiality in front of gathered media in what they said was an important "reset" for the relationship.
Mr Macron said he doesn't want an apology from Mr Albanese over the handling of the submarine debacle, because he "is not responsible for what happened".
Mr Macron embraced the new prime minister after he arrived at the Elysee Palace on Friday (local time), for their first official meeting after Australia scrapped a $90 billion submarine contract last year.
Mr Macron was asked if Mr Albanese should apologise over the handling of the deal, but the French president indicated the relationship had mended.
"We will speak about the future, not the past.
"He (Mr Albanese) is not responsible for what happened," he said, alluding to the acrimony between Mr Macron and Scott Morrison.
What the leaders described as a "new start" was a far cry from the bitterness directed at the Morrison government which saw France's ambassador to Australia dramatically pulled from Canberra and Mr Macron publicly describe Mr Morrison as a liar.
"My presence here represents a new start for our countries' relationship," Mr Albanese said during the meeting.
"Australia's relationship with France matters. Trust, respect and honesty matter. This is how I will approach my relations."
Australia will pay the French company about $830 million in compensation for the cancelled contract and will instead pursue nuclear powered submarines with US technology.
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Mr Macron warmly welcomed Mr Albanese upon his arrival to the palace, and placed his arm around his back.
He also kissed Mr Albanese's partner Jodie Haydon on the hand before introducing them to his wife Brigitte.
Ms Haydon and Ms Macron seemed to hit it off famously, erupting in laughter in front of the cameras with Australia's so-called 'first lady' drawing headlines and praise online for her easy manner.
"Jodie Haydon looks like a Northern Beaches Mum who accidentally wandered into the wrong room at a function centre and suddenly found herself among world leaders and diplomats - so grabbed a drink, cracked a smile and decided to check everyone out. I like her," one person joked on Twitter.
Leaders discuss climate change, the Pacific, cultural exchanges and trade
The leaders discussed climate change action, the war in Ukraine, Pacific policies and expanding cultural exchange between the two countries through the arts and education.
Mr Macron said France and Australia would be taken to "new horizons" through repaired relations.
Previously, Mr Albanese said the meeting with Mr Macron on July 1, the start of a new financial year was an "appropriate time" to enter a "new dawn" between Australia and France.
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The prime minister said the nation's lack of climate change action and "breakdown" of the relationship with France had stalled negotiations for a trade deal with the European Union.
Later that day, Mr Albanese visited the art museum Fondation Cartier, which has an exhibition honouring the life of First Nations artist Sally Gabori, who died in 2015.
Addressing those gathered for the event, Mr Albanese declared his government will promote arts and culture, and support a greater exchange with France.
He also reaffirmed his support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people.
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