France and Australia on Monday unveiled plans to jointly produce munitions for Ukraine as the two countries seek to strengthen defense cooperation and survive a spat over Canberra's decision to abandon plans to buy French submarines two years ago, Reuters wrote.
Relations reached a historic low in the fall of 2021, when Paris accused its allies of stabbing it in the back when Australia opted for nuclear submarines built with American and British technology and canceled the French contract.
French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said France and Australia had agreed to cooperate in the production of several thousand 155-mm shells to aid Ukraine, which he hoped could begin deliveries in the first quarter of this year.
Lecornu spoke after a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Richard Marles. Australia will supply gunpowder and France's Nexter will produce ammunition.
At the same time, Marles confirmed that Australia has no plans to purchase interim conventional-powered submarines until U.S. nuclear-powered boats are delivered, despite France's hopes of a possible interim deal.
Relations between the two Western allies have improved since the change of government in Australia.
Both sides have tried to turn the page and see how they can cooperate bilaterally and more broadly in the Indo-Pacific region, where Paris believes it can play a larger role.
France, with overseas territories in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and 7,000 troops stationed there, considers itself an Indo-Pacific power and has arms and security deals with several powers, including India.
Its initial partnership with Australia, which began in 2016, was considered a cornerstone of its Indo-Pacific policy. After losing the submarine deal, Paris decided to strengthen its ties in the region, holding high-level meetings ranging from Japan to India to Vietnam.