Emmanuel Macron will speak with US President Joe Biden in the coming days amid a diplomatic crisis over the recently-announced military partnership between the UK, the US and Australia.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the call was at Biden's request. He added that on the French side, there had been “shock” and “anger” at first, but now it was time to move forward.
The unveiling of "AUKUS" on Wednesday saw Canberra abruptly pull out from a 2016 contract worth at least $66 billion in which France was to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
France recalled its ambassadors from the US and Australia on Friday. In an interview with French 24-hour channel BFMTV, Attal said: "What’s at play in this affair, this crisis … are strategic issues before commercial issues.
"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 is widely regarded as a bid by the three countries to undermine China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region. “France is a country of the Indo-Pacific,” Attal said, pointing out the French territory of New Caledonia, the French citizens living in the region and military forces stationed there.
Macron will be seeking explanations from Biden about what led to a “major rupture in confidence,” he added. “There was a moment of shock, of anger... Now, we must advance."