British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday that he wants to “restore cooperation,” Macron’s office said, amid a diplomatic crisis over a submarine contract with Australia.
Macron was enraged last week after Australia abandoned a mega deal to buy diesel submarines from France in favor of the nuclear-powered Americans, secured during secret negotiations facilitated by Britain.
In the conversation, which according to the Elysee came at Johnson’s request, the British prime minister said he expected cooperation “in line with our common values and interests”, such as the battle against climate change, the security of the Indus region. -Pacific and the fight against terrorism.
Macron told Johnson that he “is waiting for his proposals,” his office said in a brief statement.
French fury over what it sees as a “stab in the back” over the submarine contract prompted Macron to withdraw French ambassadors in Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented diplomatic protest.
But the French envoy in London remained in her post, and the French Minister for Europe, Clement Beaune, dismissed London as a mere “third round” in the deal and a “junior partner” of the United States.
Wearing franglais, Johnson appealed to France this week to “Donnez-moi a break,” calling for calm after tempers flared in France, while telling Paris to “take a grip” (“get hold of yourself”).
‘Serious blow to confidence’
The underwater dispute brought relations between Paris and London to their worst since Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union.
Brexit has led to several disagreements between the two nations, in particular over fishing rights, but also over the still nagging trade issue between the mainland UK and the province of Northern Ireland.
Migration flows have also been a major irritant between Paris and London.
However, there remains a willingness on both sides to continue close cooperation on defense matters, experts say.
The submarine deal “created legitimate ire in France and clearly dealt a severe blow to trust and cooperation between France and the UK in a relationship already strained by years of post-Brexit disputes,” said Hans Kundnani and Alice Billon-Galland. , analysts at the Chatham House Policy Institute.
But they said “the reality is that the two countries share a similar set of interests and partners in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and they will need to find ways to navigate the current tensions.”
If successful, that could open the way for other Europeans to contribute to security in Asia as well, they said.