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Australia Accused Of Lying About Its New Submarine Deal

Australia has rejected French President Emmanuel Macron's accusation Scott Morrison lied to him about the scrapping of a $90 billion submarine contract.

Mr Macron told Australian journalists on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome "I don't think, I know" the Australian prime minister lied to him.

"I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people," Mr Macron said.

"I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistently with this value."

Mr Morrison did not agreed with suggestions he lied to the French president.

"No," the prime minister told reporters rebuffing the accusation, adding he would "always stand up for Australia's interests."

Mr Morrison maintained Australia was in the process of repairing its relationship with France.

"We've begun it, we've spoken several times over the last couple of days. I'm sure we'll speak a bit more before I head back to Australia," Mr Morrison said.

Australia in September announced it was cancelling its 2016 contract to acquire conventional Attack Class submarines from France.

Instead, the government will spend 18 months looking at the feasibility of acquiring technology for nuclear-powered vessels from the US and UK.

The shock announcement was kept under tight wraps and infuriated France, which responded by temporarily recalling its ambassadors from Australia and the US.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended Mr Morrison's actions as necessary to secure Australia's strategic interests.

"He's made very clear that he hasn't (lied)," Mr Frydenberg told the Nine Network on Monday.

"Of course, there's disappointment on the French side. This was a major defence contract that they wanted to see through to completion.

"But of course it wasn't compatible with the new AUKUS arrangement that we entered into."

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce urged everyone to move on from the submarine issue.

"He (Mr Macron) can say that, I understand that people are hurt, but we have got to act like senior politicians as well, and this issue has got to move on," he told the Seven Network.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud thought Mr Macron's ire had more to do with the upcoming French presidential election than the contract.

"It's unreasonable. The prime minister had dinner with the president in June and made it clear the subs we were purchasing wouldn't meet our strategic needs into the future," he told the Nine Network.

US President Joe Biden on the weekend described the way the decision was handled under the AUKUS pact as "clumsy".

"I think what happened was - to use an English phrase - what we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace," Mr Biden said during a meeting with Mr Macron in Rome.

"I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn't happened."