President Biden acknowledged on Friday that his administration’s handling of a submarine deal with Australia was “clumsy” as it sought to repair relations between the United States and France during a face-to-face meeting with the French president. Emmanuel macronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronOvernight Defense & National Security – GOP unhappy with Afghanistan investigation 12:30 pm The Hill Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden pleads with Democrats before heading to Europe 5 things to watch out for as Biden gets away directs Europe MORE in Italy.
The security pact, known as AUKUS, sparked a rift between the US and its oldest ally, France, last month, and resulted in France temporarily withdrawing its ambassador to the US.
“I think what happened was, to use an English phrase, that what we did was awkward,” Biden told reporters Friday during the meeting with Macron at the French embassy to the Holy See. “It was not done very gracefully. I had the impression that certain things had happened that had not happened.”
“I want to be clear. France is an extremely valuable partner,” continued Biden. “We have the same values.”
Biden later said that he had “the impression that France had been informed long before” the AUKUS pact was announced, when in fact it had not been.
“We clarified together what we had to clarify,” Macron told reporters. “And now the important thing is precisely to be sure that such a situation will not be possible for our future.”
Macron insisted on the need for “stronger coordination, stronger cooperation” and said the two countries had taken steps in recent weeks to strengthen their ties.
“What really matters now is what we will do together in the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years,” he said.
France was surprised by the announcement of the AUKUS pact, which deals with security in Asia Pacific, and reacted angrily to the announcement last month. The pact involves the United States and the United Kingdom selling nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and caused France to lose a multi-million dollar deal to supply submarines to Australia.
At the time, a French official compared Biden to the former President TrumpDonald Trump Former lawmakers sign brief to counter Trump’s claims of executive privilege in January 6 probe Fox poll shows Youngkin leads McAuliffe by 8 points among potential voters Iowa legislature passes redistribution proposal of districts MORE, which often acted unilaterally to the dismay of America’s allies.
Biden and Macron have spoken twice by phone since the dispute. On Friday, there were signs of a thaw. Biden and Macron shook hands, sat together and occasionally smiled at the meeting, giving way to a cordial atmosphere that seemed to ease tensions between the United States and France in recent weeks.
The leaders indicated that they would discuss a variety of topics, including counterterrorism in the Sahel, climate change and other security issues.
The meeting came at the beginning of Biden’s second trip abroad as president. Both leaders will attend a Group of 20 summit in Rome and later a major UN climate summit in Glasgow.