ROM. US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron sought to resolve the dispute in their first direct meeting since the submarine crisis began. Biden did not specifically apologize to Macron, but did express his regret. On Friday, Biden said at the meeting in Rome that the way in which a new security alliance with Australia had been engineered was “inappropriate.” At the time, Biden said, he had the impression that Paris had been informed long before the agreement was announced.
France lost an arms contract worth billions due to the new security alliance, which was announced without consulting. “What we did was embarrassing. Now Biden admitted. I want to be very clear: France is a very valuable partner,” Biden confirmed at the meeting at the French Vatican Embassy.
Macron also seemed very keen to leave the controversy behind. What matters now is ensuring that something like this cannot be repeated. Macron said it was now a question of creating stronger cooperation with the United States. Given the disagreement, he stressed, the partners had “now made clear what needs to be clarified”. “For me it is the future that we have to look forward to,” he added. Europe is also ready to cooperate with the United States on the security of the Indo-Pacific.
Before the meeting at the French Vatican Embassy, the Elysee Palace said the meeting was aimed at “restoring confidence”.
The trigger was the security alliance with Australia and Great Britain
The spat between NATO partners came when the United States announced a new South Pacific security alliance with Great Britain and Australia in September. According to the alliance known by the acronym Aukus, Australia will be given access to US technology to build and operate nuclear submarines. This means that France lost a diesel-powered submarine deal worth 56 billion euros to Australia. This led to angry reactions in Paris and raised doubts about the credibility of the Transatlantic Partnership. As a result, France withdrew its ambassadors from the partner countries for some time.
The Indo-Pacific Agreement was also seen as a clear signal in light of China’s growing claim to power in the region. Beijing reacted indignantly to the announcement. Nuclear powered submarines have a much greater range, can stay submerged longer, and are more difficult to track. Upon the announcement of the agreement, the United States announced that it would enhance security and military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.
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