Danes side with US against French criticism of defense deal

Mette Frederiksen

In this image made from UNTV video, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark speaks in a pre-recorded message that was played during the U.N. General Assembly, Sustainable Development Goals, at UN headquarters, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (UNTV via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark is siding with the United States in the dispute with its fellow EU member France over a major Indo-Pacific defense deal.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a newspaper interview that she wants to warn against turning “concrete challenges, which will always exist between allies, into something they should not be.”

France has reacted strongly to the deal between the U.S., Britain and Australia. As part of it, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire U.S. nuclear-powered vessels instead.

The French government is suggesting it was betrayed by the deal, and on Tuesday, the EU agreed to put the dispute at the top of the bloc’s political agenda.

“In the light of the discussions that are taking place right now in Europe, I think it is important to say that I experience (U.S. President Joe) Biden as very loyal to the trans-Atlantic alliance,” Frederiksen told Danish newspaper Politiken on Wednesday.

Asked whether she can understand the French criticism, Frederiksen replied: “No, I cannot. I do not understand that at all.”

She stressed that that did not mean Denmark agreed with the U.S. on everything.

“We have said that we would have liked to see another exit from Afghanistan,” she said. “But I have no frustrations at all in relation to the new American administration.”

Denmark, a NATO member, has been a staunch supporter of the U.S. It backed the war in Iraq and maintained some 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan from 2002 until the U.S. withdrawal this year.

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