Boris Johnson has told French president Emmanuel Macron to get a “grip” and get over his anger at the new defence pact between the UK, US and Australia.
France reacted with fury to the creation of the Aukus military agreement that caught Paris by surprise.
The alliance will see Australia cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire US nuclear-powered vessels instead.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Johnson said: “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip [get a grip] about this and donnez moi un break [give me a break].
“Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.
“It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China, for instance.”
The French government is suggesting it was betrayed by the deal, which comes in the run-up to elections in France in April.
In a dramatic move, Paris decided to recall its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in retaliation.
France has also urged its EU partners to consider whether to delay negotiations on the bloc’s future trade agreement with Australia.