US President Biden discussed with his French counterpart Macron the military deal that led to strained relations between the two countries. Australia surprised France last month by canceling a contract on submarines in favor of a US bid.
“We handled it clumsily,” Biden admitted during his meeting with Macron in Rome ahead of the G20 summit there. I was convinced that France had already informed.” The US president offered no apology.
Macron said the meeting helped restore confidence, though he declined to say the matter had been settled. “It’s like love: statement is good, but showing is better.”
Ambassadors are summoned
The deal between the United States and Australia sparked a diplomatic crisis with France, as a five-year contract worth 40 billion euros evaporated. The country was embarrassed when Australia suddenly chose American nuclear submarines over the less advanced French ships.
According to Australia, a defense pact with the United States could better counter China’s ambitions in the region. The state emphasized that, in addition, the contract was terminated strictly in accordance with the terms.
However, France strongly withdrew its ambassadors from Australia and the United States, even comparing the move to the selfish foreign policy of Biden’s predecessor Trump. “Allies don’t do this,” Foreign Minister Le Drian said in dismay.
And to please the French, the meeting with Macron took place yesterday at the French Embassy in the Vatican. At the same time, Jill Biden hosted Macron’s wife Brigitte for dinner in a Romanian restaurant.
The confrontations often took the cold out of the air. “We have made clear what needs to be clarified,” Macron concluded. “What matters now is how we work together in the coming weeks, months, and years.” Macron also thanked Biden for agreeing to help French missions in Africa.
Communicate with Biden
Biden, a well-known Catholic, met Pope Francis earlier in the day, his first in office. The two discussed, among other things, the upcoming climate summit, poverty reduction and the coronavirus pandemic.
Snapshots from the audience showed that the two were friendly with each other. The visit took longer than planned: all subsequent Biden appointments had to be postponed by an hour.
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