France-Greece frigate deal is "on" as Athens declines US offer
Greece will honour a deal to buy three frigates from France after a competing offer from the United States threatened to overturn the contract.
France's armed forces ministry said Saturday: "Since we have been in discussion with the Greeks, the American offer is no longer on the table... We also signed the contract with the Greeks. It was initialled a few days ago."
Meanwhile, a source at Greece's defence ministry said "the agreement is on and moving forward".
The announcements come as the US State Department said Friday it had approved the sale for $6.9 billion of four Lockheed Martin combat frigates, known as multi-mission surface combatant ships.
The announcement suggested France faced a fresh arms deal threat after the US undercut a massive submarine contract with Australia in a shock announcement that ruptured relations between Washington and Paris.
US government approves $9.4 billion potential frigate sale to Greece, despite Athens' $3.5 billion ship deal with Parishttps://t.co/KOEGCToApP— TRT World (@trtworld) December 11, 2021
- Greece to buy French warships as part of new defence pact
- Sinking of submarine deal leaves Franco-US friendship in tatters
US warned France to avoid repeat of AUKUS fiasco
France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and labelled the move a "stab in the back" by an ally when Canberra ditched a longstanding deal worth billions of euros to buy conventional French submarines for US nuclear-powered vessels.
Later in September, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sealed a memorandum of understanding with French President Emmanuel Macron to buy three and possibly four French Belharra frigates for three billion euros.
However France said that this time -- unlike for the Australian submarine deal -- the US had given Paris advance warning of its announcement.
Frances armed forces ministry said "They [US] wrote to us, saying that 'as part of good relations, following the AUKUS problem, we are warning you'," it said, using the name given to the Australia-UN-US pact that sunk France's submarine deal with Canberra.
"There is no inclination [on their part] to go further," the ministry added.
The French ships are to be built by Naval Group for delivery to the Greek navy in 2025 and 2026.
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