23 Oct 2021, 10:19
Update : 23 Oct 2021, 10:55

Biden and Macron discuss 'stronger' European defense

  WASHINGTON, Oct 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - US President Joe Biden and French

President Emmanuel Macron discussed strengthening European defenses in a
telephone call Friday, the White House said, as Washington seeks to mend ties
after a bitter row over submarine contracts.

  The two leaders "discussed efforts to enable a stronger and more capable
European defense while ensuring complementarity with NATO," the statement

  Biden will meet Macron in Rome later this month, and the statement said he
looked forward to the chance to "take stock of the many areas of US-France
cooperation, and reinforce our shared interests."

  A similar statement was issued by the French presidency.

  Biden and Macron last spoke on September 22 for their first conversation
since the furious spat over selling submarines to Australia severely strained

  Specifically, Australia agreed to acquire US nuclear sub technology and in
doing so scrap a huge, already existing deal with France to buy conventional
submarines. The new accord infuriated the French.

  Macron recalled France's ambassador to Washington and Foreign Minister
Jean-Yves Le Drian compared Biden's unilateral methods to ex-president Donald
Trump's but "without the tweets."

  - VP Harris to visit Paris -

  Although Biden did not apologize for secretly negotiating to sell nuclear
submarines to Australia, he did acknowledge that the issue "would have
benefited from open consultations among allies," according to a statement
after the dispute erupted.

  Following four years of tumultuous relations with Trump, the diplomatic
fireworks dashed hopes of a complete reset under Biden, who took office in
January aiming to rebuild frazzled ties with Europe.

  US officials have since sought to patch up ties, with Secretary of State
Antony Blinken visiting Paris earlier this month and holding a one-to-one
meeting with Macron.

  In their September call, Macron secured what he saw as a significant
commitment from Biden to respect French-led efforts to boost European defense
and autonomy.

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

  "They will discuss the importance of the transatlantic relationship to
global peace and security," it said, underlining partnership on challenges
"from Covid-19 and the climate crisis to issues affecting the Sahel and the

  Australia has said it had decided to pursue nuclear submarines amid rising
tensions with China, and it won the right to the technology as part of a new
three-way alliance with the United States and Britain.

  During a visit to Washington last week, EU foreign policy chief Josep
Borrell attempted to draw a line under the rift between France and the United

  "It has been a lack of communication," he said. "That's it, that's over.
Let's move forward."

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