Australia, France reaffirm defense ties

Australia and France have reaffirmed plans to deepen defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. They're trying to mend fences after the cancelation of a submarine deal last year. This comes as China is expanding its influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles visited France as the last stop of his trip to Europe.

He met on Thursday with his counterpart Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu. Marles emphasized Australia's commitment to improving ties with France as one of its closest partners.

Marles said, "Obviously we want to move on from the event of last year and try and turn the page and build the relationship between Australia and France that we should have."

Lecornu stressed France's commitment to the Indo-Pacific, where its overseas territory New Caledonia shares a maritime border with Australia.

He said, "Beyond the friendship, we have been able to build an operational closeness between our two militaries, an operational closeness precisely because we are neighbors."

Marles' visit follows a meeting in July between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The two leaders declared a new start to relations between their countries.

Ties soured last year after Australia canceled a submarine contract with France.

Instead, then-prime minister Scott Morrison announced the country would get its first nuclear submarines as part of a security partnership with the United States and Britain, called AUKUS. That led France to recall its ambassador to Canberra in protest.