PARIS: France reported on Sunday that US Vice President Joe Biden has requested an early meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in an apparent effort to heal ties after a dispute over a submarine deal created uncommon tensions between the allies.
The announcement came as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed French charges that Canberra had misled about plans to cancel a contract to buy French submarines, claiming that he had expressed misgivings about the arrangement “several months ago.”
France was outraged by Australia’s decision to rip up the French pact in favor of American nuclear-powered ships, prompting Macron to recall France’s ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented step.
However, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Sunday that Biden and Macron would speak by phone “in the next days” at the request of the US president.
Following the announcement of a US-Australian-British defense accord, which forced Canberra to cancel a large order for diesel-electric French vessels, Macron will contact Trump for “clarification.”
Attal stated, “We demand explanations.” The US was held accountable for “what appears to be a grave violation of trust.”
In the meantime, Morrison asserted that he and his ministers had made no secret of their concerns about the French ships.
He told reporters in Sydney, “I think they would have had every cause to know that we had significant and severe concerns.” “We made it clear that our decision will be based on our strategic national interest.”
On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian used distinctly undiplomatic rhetoric toward Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, all of whom are part of a new three-way security accord unveiled on Wednesday, which led to the breakup.
Le Drian told France 2 television that there had been lying, duplicity, a huge breach of trust, and disrespect. For the first time in the history of ties with the countries, the ambassadors were summoned to “demonstrate how dissatisfied we are and that there is a severe issue between us.”