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Biden tells French President that US was ‘strained’ in nuclear deal with Australia

ROME – In the first face-to-face meeting since the diplomatic crisis triggered by an agreement to make it possible to supply nuclear submarines to Australia, US President Joe Biden has said the United States has acted “hostile” to French President Emmanuel Macron. Negotiations, which directly affected the interests of the French defense establishment.

“It simply came to our notice then. It was not done very smoothly. Some things have been done, but I really thought they were not done, ”Biden announced before the start of the G-20 summit during a bilateral meeting in Rome.

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Biden cites previous negotiations on a security agreement involving the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The initiative, signed in September, is in line with the Biden administration’s principle that the US presence in the Indo-Pacific region should be augmented by its own forces or allies to curb what Washington sees as China’s progress, now considered China’s main rival. Americans.

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In the case of Aukus, the partnership expands already established relations between the three countries in the field of defense, including the exchange of intelligence, training and, most importantly, the provision of new and advanced equipment to the Australian Government. A vehicle owned by only six countries in the world, as promised by the new navy of nuclear-powered submarines.

However, amid celebrant announcements from the signatories, cautionary words from countries in the region and criticism from China, France’s reaction was angry: because of the deal, an agreement was signed between France and Australia to supply regular submarines. 60 billion euros will be dropped.

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Within hours, senior members of the French government came out publicly denouncing the “breach of trust” and “stabbing in the back,” signaling an economic retaliation against Canberra and summoning their ambassadors. Capitals of the United States and Australia. The EU went the same way and postponed negotiations on a free trade agreement.

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In late September, Biden and Macron spoke by phone and agreed to return the diplomatic envoy to Washington. This Friday, Biden suggested that voices over the Axis talks had triggered a crisis with Paris.

“For me, France was already told some time ago that their deal would not prosper, and I tell God honestly,” Biden said, rarely admitting that his diplomacy had made a serious mistake with an ally for the first time. . – We have already done many things together, we have suffered together, we have celebrated together, we value this relationship, we can deal with this crisis.

Macron, for his part, seemed satisfied with the US president’s arguments.

“We made it clear what needed to be clarified. It is important now to make sure that such situations are not possible in the future, ”Macron told reporters before the closed-door meeting. “What we do together in the coming weeks, months and years is really important.

betrayal

If the tone of the meeting with Biden, at least on camera, is affectionate, it cannot be said of the telephone conversation that took place the day before with Macron and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. According to a transcript provided by the Élysée Palace, the French leader, Aukus, said it had “broken trust” between the two countries and that Australia should take remedial action.

“[Macron] He recalled that Australia’s unilateral decision to reduce Franco-Australian cooperation by ending the submarine project had instead broken the relationship of trust between the countries with a project that had not yet been detailed. “We must now present the practical steps of the Australian Government, which demonstrates the political will of the highest Australian authorities to redefine the foundations of our bilateral relations and our joint actions in the Indo-Pacific.”

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A few hours later, Morrison released a less detailed statement, saying he was “glad to be able to talk to President Macron” and that the two were able to have a “clear discussion on bilateral relations.”

“The Prime Minister hopes that the two can work together on common interests in the Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said. There is no forecast for a bilateral meeting between the leaders in Rome or Glasgow participating in COP-26.