The White House said President Joe Biden on Wednesday had spoken by telephone for about half an hour with French President Emanuel Macron. The conversation was the first after the United States (US) together with Britain and Australia formed a new alliance called AUKUS.
The tone of the two leaders’ conversation, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, was quite “friendly.” Biden understands Macron’s complaint about a submarine deal with Australia that has thrown the relationship between the two longtime allies into disarray.
Psaki said Biden hoped the phone call would be “a step back towards normal long-term and important relations between America and France.”
In the conversation, Psaki added, the two leaders agreed that the French ambassador would return to Washington next week and that Biden and Macron would meet in Europe at the end of October.
In an unprecedented move, France withdrew its ambassador after the United States, Australia and Britain announced a new Indo-Pacific defense deal last week. As part of the pact, Australia canceled a billion-dollar contract to buy diesel-powered submarines from France, replacing them with nuclear-powered ones from America.
Asked if Biden apologized to Macron, Psaki brushed off the question, replying “he acknowledged that perhaps there should have been more in-depth consultation.” (ka/ps)