France’s Defence Minister, Florence Parly, has cancelled talks with her United Kingdom counterpart, Ben Wallace, amid the row sparked by a new security deal between the UK, the US and Australia.
Paris became angry after Australia signed the Aukus pact to build nuclear-powered submarines, pulling out of a major contract with France in the process.
UK PM Boris Johnson said France had nothing to worry about from the deal.
However, Florence Parly’s meeting with UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in London this week has been called off.
Lord Ricketts, a former British Ambassador to France, who was due to co-chair the two days of talks, confirmed the meeting had been “postponed to a later date.”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told BBC Breakfast, “All bilateral relationships go through periods of tension,” but added: “I have absolutely no doubt that ultimately our relationship with France will endure.”
He said the pact with Australia and the US was intended to “strengthen and deepen” the relationship with two long-standing defence partners and to support high-tech manufacturing and technology companies across the UK.
The Aukus agreement brokered last week, widely seen as an effort to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea, ended a deal worth $37 billion (£27 billion) signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines.