Submarine crisis: Joe Biden admits that the United States has been “clumsy”

With many smiles, handshakes and declarations on their partnership, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron ostensibly displayed their reconciliation on Friday, October 29 in Rome after the quarrel caused by the Australian submarine crisis.

The United States was “Clumsy” with France, this partner “Extremely valuable”Joe Biden told reporters who were present during the meeting with his French counterpart at Villa Bonaparte, the French embassy in the Vatican. ” What we have done (…) was not done with much elegance ”, added the US president, qualifying however: “I had the impression that France had been informed long before. “

In response, Emmanuel Macron greeted “Concrete decisions” taken after this crisis, citing the consultations between the two countries carried out in recent weeks on the climate, defense and innovation. « [C’]is for me really the beginning of a process of trust ”, did he declare. “We clarified what we had to clarify”, he said again.

In French expectations, there is in particular clear support from the Americans for the project of genuine common European defense, dear to Paris. According to Emmanuel Macron, this idea, which Washington has not always welcomed with the greatest warmth, is entirely compatible with NATO, the transatlantic military alliance led by the United States. Paris would also like more support for military interventions against jihadists in the Sahel, Emmanuel Macron welcoming the first concrete measures implemented on the ground by the United States.

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La surprise de Washington

The United States had been visibly taken aback by the very strong French reaction to the announcement, in mid-September, of a new alliance, dubbed “Aukus”, between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. – United in the Indo-Pacific area.

In addition to not having been consulted, Paris was very disappointed by the first consequence of this partnership: the abandonment by Australia of a mega-contract for submarines signed between France and Australia in 2016.

The United States then argued that the move, which will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submersibles, will allow Camberra to better contain China’s encroachment in the region.

This explanation had not calmed the anger of Paris. Emmanuel Macron, after recalling the French ambassador to the United States, had waited a week before meeting with Joe Biden, on September 22, in order to initiate the detente.

Heal alliances

Before the French president, Joe Biden, anxious to consolidate the European alliances of the United States abused during the presidency of Trump, had met Mario Draghi, the head of the Italian government. During this interview, they agreed to “The usefulness of developing a Europe of defense”, the Italian government said.

The United Kingdom, which is part of the Aukus alliance, also wanted to smooth things over with France. Paris “Is one of our best, oldest and closest allies, friends and partners”British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on the plane bringing him to Rome for the G20 summit, where he plans to meet the French president. “The bonds that unite and bind us are far more powerful than the turbulence that currently exists in our relationship. This is what I am going to tell Emmanuel, who is a friend whom I have known for many years ”, he added.

The G20 summit, under the Italian presidency, will be held on Saturday and Sunday. The major world powers are expected to announce a solemn agreement on a proposed minimum tax on companies, but uncertainty still persists over their ability to make strong commitments on the climate, before the summit is held next week. the COP26 in Glasgow (United Kingdom).

Our selection of articles on the submarine crisis between France and Australia

Le Monde with AP and AFP

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Submarine crisis: Joe Biden admits that the United States has been “clumsy”