Australia's trade minister said on Monday that he seeks dialogue with his French counterpart amid a diplomatic rift caused by Canberra's decision to scrap a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with France's Naval Group.
Dan Tehan said he also expected that his country could continue its free-trade agreement negotiations with the European Union (EU), despite the diplomatic crisis with one of the bloc's members.
Tehan will travel to Paris next month for a ministerial-level Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting and negotiations on the trade agreement with the EU in Brussels, a trip during which he hopes to explain to the government of Emmanuel Macron the reasons behind its submarine decision.
"Obviously, we'll be very keen to touch base with my French counterpart [Franck Riester] while I'm in France," the minister said in an interview with national broadcaster ABC.
"We understand the disappointment in France at the moment with this decision, but I think also, what everyone has to understand is that we've taken a decision which we firmly believe is in our own sovereign, nationals interests."
The suspension of the $66 billion contract with the state-owned Naval Group came to light after the announcement last week of a defense agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS), which includes the development of nuclear-powered submarines for Canberra.