In what's typically seen as a "severe diplomatic step ... usually used against adversaries," France has recalled its ambassadors to both the U.S. and Australia in protest of the countries' controversial nuclear submarine partnership, The New York Times reports.
According to the French foreign ministry, this is "the first time ever" France has recalled its U.S. ambassador, writes the Star Tribune.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the "exceptional decision," apparently made by President Emmanuel Macron, "is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15 September by Australia and the United States," per the Times.
On Wednesday, the U.S. announced a new nuclear submarine partnership with Australia and the U.K. that effectively cancels out an exisiting defense deal between Australia and France. Le Drian called the arrangement a "stab in the back," and likened the situation's handling to that of former President Donald Trump.
Friday's recall is an escalation of the conflict, in which Philippe Étienne, the French ambassador the U.S., will return to Paris "for consultations."
Le Drian on Friday said the abandonment of the French deal and the newfound partnership "constitute unacceptable behavior among allies and partners; their consequences affect the very concept we have of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe," per CNN.
The White House, for its part, will "continue to be engaged [with France] in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done at other points over the course of our long alliance," said an official to CNBC. Read more at CNBC and The New York Times.