London: A meeting between UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his French counterpart Florence Parly was cancelled because of the diplomatic row over the AUKUS deal between Australia, the US and the UK that stole away the $66 billion contract Paris had signed with Canberra, The Guardian reports.
Peter Ricketts, the co-chair of the Franco-British Council that the defence ministers had planned to address, told the newspaper on Sunday that the gathering had been "postponed to a later date." The ministers were also due to hold a bilateral meeting in London, but it has also been cancelled, according to The Guardian.
This past week, Paris recalled its ambassador from Canberra and Washington after Australia gave up on a $66 billion defence deal with France to enter a new trilateral strategic partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS).
The Guardian said on Saturday that US talks on the issue went on for months in utmost secrecy and that during the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, French President Emmanuel Macron was given no hint that the Australians were about to scupper the deal.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has described Australia's withdrawal from the deal as a "stab in the back."
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that Britain's relationship with France is ‘ineradicable’.