'Donnez moi un break' Johnson tells France amid submarine deal outcry

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has mocked France's reaction to a new security pact that will see Australia cancel a multibillion-dollar deal to buy French conventional submarines and acquire US nuclear-powered vessels instead.

"I just think it's time for some of our dearest friends around the world to, you know, 'prenez un grip' about all this and 'donnez-moi un break,' because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security," Johnson told reporters as he visited Washington on Wednesday.

The French government has suggested it was betrayed by the deal and recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in a show of anger.

"It's three very like-minded allies standing shoulder-to-shoulder, creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology. It is not exclusive. It is not trying to shoulder anybody out. It is not adversarial towards China, for instance. It is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries in a way that I think will be beneficial for things that we believe in," Johnson went on.

US President Joe Biden and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron are due to speak later on Wednesday by telephone for the first time since the row erupted, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said.

It will be "an exchange of clarification, clarifying both the conditions under which this announcement was decided and made, and also clarifying the conditions of an American re-engagement in a relationship of allies," Attal told reporters at a regular press briefing on Wednesday.

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