PARIS: France and Australia unveiled plans on Monday to jointly manufacture ammunition for Ukraine as the two countries seek to shore up defence cooperation and move past a row over Canberra’s decision to ditch plans to buy French submarines two years ago.

The relationship hit historic lows in the autumn of 2021, with Paris accusing its allies of stabbing it in the back when Australia opted for nuclear-powered submarines built with US and British technology instead and cancelled a French contract.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France and Australia had agreed to cooperate to make “several thousands” of 155-millimetre shells to help Ukraine. He hoped delivery of the shells to Ukraine could start in March.

Lecornu was speaking after meeting his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, the first joint high-level talks since the submarine row erupted. Australia will supply the powder while France’s Nexter will make the ammunition.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023

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