The Australian government has dismissed a French minister’s claims that Canberra had recommitted to the French submarine deal just hours before Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a nuclear submarine pact with the UK and US.

On Thursday, an Australian Department of Defence official hit back after France’s Armed Forces Ministry spokesman Hervé Grandjean claimed on Tuesday that Canberra had said it was ready to move forward with the 2016 French submarine deal just hours before the AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) announcement.

The dispute concerns a letter sent on September 15, the day of the AUKUS announcement. The Australian spokesperson claimed the letter informed French defense contractor Naval Group that it had formally ended a review begun in January. (RT)