By Jeff Mason and Michel Rose
ROME -President Joe Biden on Friday called U.S. government actions “clumsy” during his first meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron since a diplomatic crisis erupted last month over a U.S. security pact with Britain and Australia.
Biden used the meeting at the G20 summit in Rome, Italy to try to turn the page on a relationship that came under strain over the U.S.-Australia security alliance, known as AUKUS, which also includes the United Kingdom. The pact effectively canceled a 2016 Australian-France submarine deal.
The U.S. decision to secretly negotiate a new deal https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/aukus-deal-ensure-peace-security-indo-pacific-says-us-admiral-2021-10-14 drew outrage from Paris. France temporarily recalled its ambassadors to the United States, canceled a gala in Washington and officials accused Biden https://www.reuters.com/world/us-move-dislodge-france-australia-submarine-deal-is-incoherent-french-ministers-2021-09-15 of acting like former President Donald Trump.
“I think what happened was, to use an English phrase, what we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden said. “I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened… but I want to make it clear: France is an extremely, extremely valued partner — extremely — and a power in and of itself.”
Biden also said the United States does not have an older and more loyal ally than France and that there is no place in the world where the United States cannot cooperate with France.
Macron said his meeting with Biden was “important” and that it was key to “look to the future” as his country and the United States work to mend fences.
Since the rift erupted, Washington has taken several steps to fix the relationship.
Biden and Macron spoke to each other https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/biden-macron-discuss-european-defense-will-meet-rome-white-house-2021-10-22 earlier this month. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also visited Paris earlier this month, where he acknowledged the U.S. could have “communicated better” and Vice President Kamala Harris announced that she would travel to Paris in November and meet with Macron.