Macron, Biden to Talk Amid Sub Crisis 09/19 09:16
President Emmanuel Macron will speak in the coming days with President Joe
Biden in what will be their first contact since a major diplomatic crisis
erupted between France and the United States over a submarine deal with
Australia, an official said Sunday.
PARIS (AP) -- President Emmanuel Macron will speak in the coming days with
President Joe Biden in what will be their first contact since a major
diplomatic crisis erupted between France and the United States over a submarine
deal with Australia, an official said Sunday.
The phone call is at the request of Biden, government spokesman Gabriel
Attal said, adding that there was "shock" and "anger" at first. But now it's
time to try to move forward, he said.
What the French now call a "grave crisis" erupted over the sudden, surprise
end to a 2016 contract worth at least $66 billion between France and Australia
to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines. Instead, Australia signed
on with the United States and Britain for eight nuclear powered submarines.
France insists it was not informed of the deal in advance.
France recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia in a
sign of the seriousness of the crisis.
"What's at play in this affair, this crisis ... are strategic issues before
being commercial issues," Attal said in an interview on BFMTV. "The question is
... the forces present, the balance, in the Indo-Pacific where part of our
future is at play, and our relations with China."
The deal by the United States reflects the American pivot toward the
Indo-Pacific region, seen as increasingly strategic as China bolsters its
France feels the deal steps on its feet in a region where it has long had a
strong presence that it, too, is working to bolster, in addition to a five-year
contract with Australia.
"France is a country of the Indo-Pacific," Attal said, noting the French
territory of New Caledonia, the French citizens living in the region and
military forces based there.
The Indo-Pacific is also an issue for Europe, he said.
Macron will be seeking explanations from Biden about what led to a "major
rupture in confidence," the spokesman added. "There was a moment of shock, of
anger ... Now, we must advance," Attal said.
On Friday night, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian railed against
what France views as a betrayal marked by "duplicity, disdain and lies."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday that France "would
have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns" about the
capability of France's Attack class subs that can't meet its strategic