Macron and Biden discuss ‘stronger’ European defense after submarine dispute

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US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed strengthening European defenses in a phone call on Friday, the White House said as Washington seeks to mend ties after a bitter dispute over contracts. of submarines.

The two leaders “discussed efforts to enable stronger and more capable European defense while ensuring complementarity with NATO,” the statement said.

Biden will meet Macron in Rome later this month, and the statement said he looked forward to the opportunity to “take stock of the many areas of cooperation between the United States and France and reinforce our shared interests.”

The two last spoke on September 22 for their first conversation since the furious dispute over the sale of submarines to Australia severely strained relations.

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Specifically, Australia agreed to acquire US nuclear sub-technology, and in doing so scrapped an existing large deal with France to buy conventional submarines. The new agreement angered the French.

Macron recalled the French ambassador to Washington and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian compared Biden’s unilateral methods with those of former President Donald Trump, but “without the tweets.”

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Although Biden did not apologize for secretly negotiating the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia, he acknowledged that the issue “would have benefited from open consultations between allies,” according to a later statement.

Since then, US officials have tried to mend ties, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Paris earlier this month and held a one-on-one meeting with Macron.

In his September call, Macron assured what he saw as a significant commitment by Biden to respect French-led efforts to push forward European defense and autonomy.

US Vice President Kamala Harris will also hold talks with Macron in Paris next month, the White House announced.

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(AFP)