Biden to Meet Macron After Submarine Deal Caused Public Rift

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden said he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in October, seeking to mend ties after a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine deal with Australia that outraged officials in Paris.

© Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg Biden Macron

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Biden held a phone call with the French president on Wednesday, the first time the two leaders spoke since the submarine deal was announced last week. In a joint statement, the two countries said Biden and Macron “agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners.”

The agreement between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. scuttled a previous $66 billion deal for France to build a diesel-powered sub fleet for Australia. French officials complained they were taken by surprise and cut out of talks on a broader defense alliance between the three English-speaking countries.

While Biden sought to smooth relations, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told France to get over it. “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break,” Johnson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.  

Read more: Johnson Mocks French Outrage Over Loss of Submarines Deal

In an unprecedented move, France recalled its ambassador from Washington on Friday in protest. Macron will return the ambassador next week, according to the joint statement.

The French also asked that a U.S. and European Union summit scheduled for next week be postponed. The fate of that summit wasn’t mentioned in the statement.

The White House has said it was Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s obligation to inform France he was ending their deal for diesel-powered subs. Morrison has said he had made concerns about the French subs clear to Macron’s government and that they wouldn’t meet Australia’s future security needs.

Biden and Macron will meet in Europe, according to the statement. The U.S. president is already scheduled to attend the Group of 20 summit in Rome and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow at the end of October and beginning of November.

For the Biden administration, the incident was a reminder that it needs to tend to its European relationships, even as Asia and the Middle East occupy much of senior officials’ attention. The joint statement suggested that the U.S. will take new steps to nurture its ties with France and other European allies.

(Updates with comment from sattement in second paragraph.)

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