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The UK must cooperate with France in the Indo-Pacific


Despite understandable French anger over AUKUS, the UK and France share similar interests and partners in the Indo-Pacific and must navigate current tensions.

The announcement of the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the UK and the US, which put an end to the Franco-Australian submarine contract that constituted one of the pillars of the French Indo-Pacific strategy, has created a legitimate anger in France and clearly dealt a serious blow to trust and cooperation between France and the UK in a relationship already strained by years of post-Brexit disputes. Some senior figures have called for a rethink of France’s approach to the region, and even to alliances more generally.

Even though Paris has downplayed the role played by the UK in the new pact, which it sees mostly as exploiting the situation to score a post-Brexit political win, it has postponed the scheduled meeting between the French and British defence ministers – a sign that the wider relationship between France and the UK cannot be insulated from AUKUS. Yet the reality is the two countries share a similar set of interests and partners in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and will need to find ways to navigate current tensions.

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