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Biden and Macron to meet next month in submarines dispute

The withdrawn French ambassador is set to return to the United States next week

File image of Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in England in June this year.
File image of Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in England in June this year.
Image: PA

FRANCE WILL SEND its ambassador back to the US next week after French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone call with Joe Biden over a submarine dispute, the Elysee and the White House have said.

Macron had asked for “clarifications and clear commitments” from the US President in a call to address a dispute over submarines.

Both heads of state “have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence,” the Elysee and the White House said in a joint statement.

Macron and Biden will meet at the end of October in Europe, the statement said.

The French ambassador will “have intensive work with senior US officials” after his return next week to the United States.

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 statement said.

France recalled its ambassador after the US, Australia and Britain announced a new Indo-Pacific defence deal last week.

Under the deal, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire US nuclear-powered vessels instead.

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

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

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French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the issue was raised by Macron during a weekly Cabinet meeting today.

The call with Biden aimed to clarify “the conditions of the American re-commitment in an relationship between Allies”, Attal said.

France’s European Union partners agreed yesterday 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 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.

No decision has been made about the French ambassador to Australia, who was also recalled last week, the Elysee said, adding that no phone call with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was scheduled.

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