President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement after speaking by phone on Thursday about the rift between the allies over a new defense partnership in the Indo-Pacific region. They agreed to meet in person in Europe at the end of October, and Macron agreed to send his ambassador back to Washington for more talks with officials.
“The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners. President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard,” they said in the unusually descriptive statement about the call, which the statement said Biden had requested.
“The two leaders have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives,” they said.
It was their first conversation since Biden last week announced that the United States would work with Australia and the United Kingdom in the new defense partnership, in which the United States will share its nuclear-powered submarine technology with Australia. The new security coalition is called AUKUS — an acronym of the three countries’ abbreviations.
The deal resulted in Australia canceling a contract with France for conventional submarines. Furious about the arrangement, France took the highly unusual step of recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. Philippe Etienne, the French ambassador to the United States, told NPR that Biden’s decision was “a breach of trust.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the other key player in this global drama — advised France to “prenez un grip,” or get a grip, on the matter, which he hailed as “a great step forward for global security.”
Boris Johnson, speaking outside the Capitol, says it’s time for the French to “prenez un grip” and “donnez-moi un break” after the spat over a U.K. submarine deal with the U.S. and Australia pic.twitter.com/FpVywohTjK
— Kitty Donaldson (@kitty_donaldson) September 22, 2021