An official stated Sunday that the French President Emmanuel Macron and President Joe Biden will be speaking in the next few days in their first contact since a serious diplomatic crisis between France and the United States . This was over a submarine deal with Australia.
Gabriel Attal, a government spokesperson, stated that the phone call was made at Biden’s request. He also said that there were initially feelings of shock and anger in France about the news of the deal. He said that now is the time to move on.
The sudden and unexpected termination of a 2016 agreement worth at least $66billion between Australia and France to build 12 conventional diesel electric submarines triggered what the French call a “grave crise”. Australia instead signed up with the United States of America and Britain to build eight nuclear-powered submarines. France claims it was not informed about the agreement in advance.
France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia as a sign that the crisis is serious.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister, met Sunday with both ambassadors to discuss the “strategic consequences of the current crise,” the ministry stated without further details.
Attal stated that the crisis, and what’s at stake in it, are not commercial issues but strategic issues. “The question is… what forces are present, the balance in the Indo-Pacific, where part of our future and our relations to China is at stake.”
The US has signed a deal that reflects its pivot towards the Indo-Pacific region. This is seen as strategic by China as it increases its influence in the region. France is not happy with the deal. It feels it steps on its toes in a region that has had a strong presence for many years and which it also wants to strengthen.
Attal stated, “France, a country of Indo-Pacific,” referring to the French territory in New Caledonia, French citizens who live there, and the French military forces that are based there.
He said that the Indo-Pacific was also a concern for Europe.
According to the spokesperson, Macron will seek explanations from Biden on what caused a “major fracture in confidence”. “There was an instant of shock, anger… Now, it is time to move forward.”
Friday night Le Drian lashed out at France’s betrayal in the submarine matter.
Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, stated Sunday that France would have “every reason” to know of his deep and grave concerns about France’s Attack Class subs. He said that they can’t serve Australia’s strategic needs.