France will send its ambassador back to Australia after withdrawing the envoy in a row over a submarine supply deal, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.

“I have now asked our ambassador to return to Canberra with two missions: to help redefine the terms of our relationship with Australia in the future …and to defend our interests in the concrete implementation of the Australian decision to end the programme for future submarines,” Mr Le Drian told French MPs on Wednesday.

Paris had pulled the ambassador out of Canberra in protest at a defence pact negotiated between the United States, Australia and Britain. Known as AUKUS, the pact is intended to counter Chinese military power.