- Macron expected ‘clarification and clear commitment’ from Biden
- He recalls French ambassador to the US in fury over new security deal
- US, UK and Australia agree to new arrangements where Australia will receive new nuclear-powered subs
- The French were blind and the move ended a $90 billion diesel-electric sub deal with France.
- A joint statement said ‘open discussions among allies would have benefited the situation’
President Joe Biden finally held a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron after a week of controversy – and acknowledged that an ‘open consultation’ with the longtime aide could help.
The White House and France issued a joint statement on the call, after the US, Britain and Australia angered the French with a new deal for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
It states that the call took place ‘at the request’ of Biden.
The two leaders agreed that the situation would benefit from open consultations between allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners. According to the statement, President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard.
“The two leaders have decided to initiate a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating conditions for ensuring trust and proposing concrete measures for common objectives,” the statement said.
It added that they would meet in Europe at the end of October, with a possible reference to the upcoming G20 summit in Rome.
President Emmanuel Macron has decided that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then begin intensive work with senior US officials.
President Joe Biden prepares to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron. On Tuesday, he met Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House
Joint Statement on Phone Call between President Biden and President Macron
President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic and President Joe Biden of the United States spoke on September 22, at the latter’s request, on September 15 to discuss the implications of the declaration. The two leaders agreed that the situation would benefit from open consultations between allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners. President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard.
The two leaders have decided to initiate a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating conditions for ensuring trust and proposing concrete measures for common objectives. They will meet in Europe at the end of October to reach a common understanding and keep pace with the process. President Emmanuel Macron has decided that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then begin intensive work with senior US officials.
President Biden reaffirmed the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including within the framework of the European Union’s recently published Strategy in the Indo-Pacific. The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, which makes a positive contribution to transatlantic and global security and complements NATO.
In the framework of its joint fight against terrorism, the United States is committed to strengthening its support for counter-terrorist operations in the Sahel organized by European states.
The statement concludes: ‘President Biden reaffirms the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific, including in the framework of the EU’s recently published Strategy for the Indo-Pacific. The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, which makes a positive contribution to transatlantic and global security and complements NATO.
‘In the framework of its joint fight against terrorism, the United States remains committed to strengthening its support for counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel, conducted by European states,’ it concluded.
The French-language version of the joint statement differs slightly in a key section, which states that ‘the situation could have been avoided with open consultation’.
In protest against the move, Macron called back the French ambassador to the US for consultations, after both sides discussed possible phone calls for several days.
Macron expects “clarification and clear commitments” from Biden in the call, Macron’s office said in advance.
The White House has not indicated any new commitments are coming, although Biden on Tuesday at the United Nations repeatedly stressed the value he places on US alliances.
After avoiding intense questioning for several days, Biden has yet to publicly address the situation directly in public.
He spoke virtually for a COVID summit with world leaders on Wednesday, but journalists were ejected while the UN Secretary-General was speaking, leaving American journalists no chance to question him.
“We’re still working on its scheduling — with President Macron in the coming days,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of the call on Monday.
“And I hope that what the President will do on that call reaffirms our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners to address the issues facing the global community,” she said.
The call came after Johnson visited the Capitol on Wednesday, a mockery of French outrage.
He said that it is time for some ‘dear friends’ to ‘prenaise un gripe’.
Macron’s office said the call, which was requested by Biden, was to discuss the “crisis of confidence” that led to the unprecedented recall of the French ambassador to the US last week.
Macron expects clarification on the US choice to keep the European ally away from important exchanges on Indo-Pacific cooperation, the statement said.
Amidst the uproar, France recalls its ambassador to the US, Philippe Etienne
Biden stressed the importance of US alliances at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a meeting in memory of Algerians who fought alongside French colonial forces in the Battle of Algeria, known as Harquis, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, September 20, 2021. Macron’s speech is the latest step in his efforts to reconcile France with its dark colonial past, particularly in Algeria. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool Photo via AP)
Biden has emphasized his diplomatic experience for decades in the Senate, including some on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before serving as vice president.
According to French diplomats, the Indo-Pacific defense deal between the US, Australia and Britain was announced by Biden last week, hours before France was formally informed. The deal would see Australia cancel a multi-billion dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and instead acquire American nuclear-powered ships.
France wants an acknowledgment that talks between the allies ‘should have happened’ before the deal ‘had not happened’ and it is ‘raising a matter of confidence about which we need to pull all the results together,’ according to Macron’s office. .
Macron’s office said Paris is calling for “full recognition by our American ally of the need to strengthen European sovereignty and the importance of greater participation for the European people in their defense and security”, not just words.
France also wants a reaffirmation of its ‘shared commitment to the fight against terrorism’.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Macron had raised the issue during a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The call with Biden is intended to bring ‘clarification’ on the terms of the US re-commitment in relations between the Allies, Atal said.
France’s EU partners agreed on Tuesday to put the dispute at the top of the bloc’s political agenda, which includes an EU summit next month.
The French presidency categorically denied a report by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper published on Wednesday that said Macron could offer the EU the country’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council if the bloc defends the EU. But supports his plans.