France has agreed to resend its ambassador to the US back to Washington after US President Joe Biden spoke for the first time Wednesday, September 22 with French President Emmanuel Macron following the fallout over a deal to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
In the call, Biden acknowledged missteps in how the United States approached the talks. Last week the US, UK and Australia announced it has agreed on a deal to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia which will help Australia in deterrence efforts against China in the Pacific .
The move angered France as they had already agreed a $50b deal with Australia in 2016 to sell diesel powered submarines to Australia, even though the submarines France wanted to sell to Australia are no match for the US nuclear submarines.
France who were shocked by the deal as they had not been informed by the US prior to the announcement, recalled its ambassador to the US and Australia saying the deal felt like a ‘stab in the back’
A joint statement on Wednesday, between the United States and France said Macron and Biden “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,” the statement said.
Biden himself has ignored all questions on the France dispute since the crisis erupted at the end of last week, but officials said he was surprised by the outsized reaction from Paris and wanted to smooth things over with his counterpart.
In their call, Biden and Macron agreed to meet at the end of next month in Europe. Biden had already planned to attend a Group of 20 summit in Rome at the end of October.
“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,” the statement read.
Macron also agreed to return his ambassador to Washington after recalling him for consultations in Paris. And Biden voiced support for “the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense,” a longtime priority for Macron.
The French President did not travel to this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to make light of France’s outrage during an interview outside the US Capitol in Washington.
“I just think it’s time for some of my dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez moi un break,” Johnson said, using a bit of Franglish to suggest France may be overreacting. He called the agreement a “fundamentally a great step forward for global security.”