Macron expects ‘clarifications’ from Biden in submarine row

22 September 2021, 15:34

France US Submarines
France US Submarines. Picture: PA

The French president’s office said the call was to discuss ‘the crisis of trust’ between France and the US.

French President Emmanuel Macron expects “clarifications and clear commitments” from US President Joe Biden in a call to take place later on Wednesday to address a dispute over submarines, Macron’s office said.

The French president’s office said the call, which was requested by Biden, is to discuss “the crisis of trust” that led to the unprecedented recall of the French ambassador to the United States.

Mr Macron expects “clarifications on the American choice to keep a European ally away from key exchanges on an Indo-Pacific cooperation”, the statement said.

The Indo-Pacific defence deal between the US, Australia and Britain was announced last week by Mr Biden, with France being formally informed only a few hours beforehand, according to French diplomats.

The pact will see Australia cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire US nuclear-powered vessels instead.

France wants an acknowledgment that talks should have been held between allies before the deal was made and that it is raising “a matter of trust about which we need to draw together all the consequences”, according to Macron’s office.

Paris is calling for “acts, not words only” including on “the full recognition by our American ally of the need to strengthen European sovereignty and the importance for Europeans to have greater involvement in their defence and security”, Macron’s office said.

France also wants the “common commitment in the fight against terrorism” to be reaffirmed.

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said the issue was raised by Macron during a weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The call with Biden aims to clarify “the conditions of the American re-commitment in an relationship between Allies”, Attal said.

France’s European Union partners agreed on Tuesday to put the dispute at the top of bloc’s political agenda, including at an EU summit next month.

The French presidency categorically denied a report by the Daily Telegraph that Mr Macron could offer the country’s permanent seat at the UN Security Council to the European Union if the bloc backs his plans on EU defence.

By Press Association

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