Biden tells Macron US 'clumsy' in Australian submarine deal

On Friday, President Joe Biden met with President Emmanuel Macron in France. He said that America was "clumsy in its orchestration" of a secret U.S.–British submarine agreement with Australia. This arrangement left France in the lurch, and rattled Europe’s faith in American loyalty.

Biden tells Macron US 'clumsy' in Australian submarine deal

Biden and Macron met with each other for the first time since September's public announcement. It was the latest American attempt to soothe hurt French sensibilities. Biden did not apologize to Macron but admitted that the U.S. shouldn't have taken Macron by surprise.

Biden stated that "I think, what occurred was to use an English phrase. What we did was clumsy." He also said that the submarine deal was not completed with much grace.

He said, "I had the impression that France was informed long before."

The U.S.-led submarine deal replaced a French agreement to supply Australia with diesel-powered submarines. The U.S. claimed that this move will provide Australia with better-quality, nuclear-powered boats to counter Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Macron stated that the allies would strengthen their cooperation to avoid another similar misunderstanding.

When asked if U.S. relations with France had been restored, he replied that "We clarified together" what he had to clarify. He said, "What we will do together in coming weeks, the upcoming months, and the coming years is what really matters now."

Macron stated that the goal of the meeting was to secure greater U.S intelligence and military cooperation in support of French anti-terrorist operations within the Sahel region.

Macron praised Biden for his "very operational, very specific decisions" in recent weeks which helped France fight Islamic extremists within the Sahel.

Biden and Macron also discussed ways to work together in the Indo-Pacific. This was done to calm French tensions about being exempted from the U.S.-U.K.-Australia partnership, which was accompanied by the submarine deal. The agenda also includes topics such as China, Afghanistan, Iran, and climate change ahead of next week's UN summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

French citizens, who were left out of the $60 billion submarine deal, claim that the Biden administration misled them about talks with Australia. They also criticize Biden's use of tactics similar to his bully predecessor, Donald Trump. France is particularly upset at being kept in the dark about major geopolitical shifts and having its interests in Indo-Pacific, where France has territories home to 2 million people and 7,000 soldiers, ignored.

Biden's well-honed image of helping to stabilize and reinforce the trans-Atlantic Alliance after Trump's presidency was challenged by the row. France pulled its ambassador to America in protest for the first time in 250 years of diplomatic relations.

From Biden all the way down to Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. officials have been working for weeks to ease tensions. However, Biden has not yet visited France to reset relations with Paris. Instead, he sent Vice President Kamala Harris to France for a visit in Novembe r.

The White House made concessions by hosting the Biden-Macron meeting at Rome's Villa Bonaparte. This was France's embassy to Holy See. Macron called it "politically important". Jill Biden, first lady, was to host Brigitte Macron Friday afternoon.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national defense adviser, stated that the two leaders would "literally address the waterfront of issues facing U.S. France alliance," which includes counterterrorism in the Middle East and China as well as trade and economic issues.

He said, "We feel very happy about the intense engagement that we've enjoyed with France over the past few weeks,"

Biden and Macron are expected to release a joint statement describing areas of mutual cooperation after their meeting.

While the U.S. is focusing on Asia, Macron wants to strengthen Europe's defense capabilities by providing more military equipment and overseas military operations.

France also wants to add "muscle" to Europe's geopolitical strategy towards an assertive China, Jean-Pierre Thebault (France's ambassador to Australia) told The Associated Press earlier in the month.

According to a top French official, France wants Western allies "to divide up roles" rather than competing against one another and for Americans to be "allies that are as loyal and as accessible for their European partners' as ever."

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