Biden and Macron speak out in a bid to quell diplomatic disputes


President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking for the first time since a diplomatic row arose over an agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to provide Australia with sub- Nuclear-powered sailors have vowed to seek ways to patch up an alliance that is part of America’s efforts to counter China’s influence in the Pacific.

In a joint statement by the United States and France, both sides acknowledged that the situation would have benefited from better communication. Mr. Biden also reaffirmed his commitment to discuss issues of strategic interest to France and European partners, he said. Mr Macron said his ambassador, Philippe Etienne, would return to Washington next week, according to the joint statement.

France had already contracted with Australia to supply it with conventional submarines, but Australia opted for the more advanced version proposed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he is acting in Australia’s best interests.

French officials have said publicly that they had not received any prior warning about the security pact before it was announced. The United States said France had been given notice, while British officials said it was up to Australians to give notice.

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At the same time, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom announced a new defense pact to share cutting-edge defense technologies. As a major naval player in the Indo-Pacific, French officials blasted Washington for excluding them from the deal.

The disagreement prompted France to recall its ambassador to Washington for consultation. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian berated countries for what he called a “stab in the back” from two allies.

The diplomatic break with France is the latest challenge to an American administration which seeks to maintain unity among its allies and to dispel doubts about its determination to meet global challenges together. The recent brutal US exit from Afghanistan caught some European officials off guard, adding to tensions with the continent.

Other leaders urged the two allies to end the rift and move forward. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Wednesday called on the allies not to deepen divisions between Western countries, although she did not specifically mention France.

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“I think it’s important to say, given the ongoing talks in Europe right now, that I consider Biden to be very loyal to the transatlantic alliance,” she said in an interview with Danish daily Politiken. from New York. “And in general, we must not turn the concrete challenges, which will always exist between the allies, into something that they should not be. I would really like to warn against that,” she added.

During a visit to Washington this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also without specifically mentioning France, suggested that “some of our dearest friends in the world … and English.

Behind the scenes, US and French officials attempted to stop the downward diplomatic spiral. Since Etienne was recalled for consultations last week, US officials have tried to understand France’s frustrations and the nature of their previous deal with Australia, a US official said.

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French-speaking Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in contact with his French and British counterparts to ease tensions and find a way forward.

France and the United States continue to work closely together in various fields, from the fight against terrorism to climate change.

France has requested an American commitment to support French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific and to support European efforts aimed at increasing their autonomy and sovereignty in the area of ​​defense.

France has led a campaign in Europe to increase the region’s common defense and security capabilities in order to play a more independent role in the region and beyond.

This push has met resistance from some European countries, who fear it will erode US commitments to NATO and divert European defense spending from the alliance.

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