Macron, Biden to meet in Europe in October over submarine row

Published September 23, 2021, 10:40 AM

by Xinhua

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the press at the nine Mediterranean European Union member states (EUMED 9) Summit in Athens, Greece, on Sept. 17, 2021. (Xinhua)

PARIS, France — French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Joe Biden said they will meet in October in Europe following their phone call on Wednesday over the new trilateral Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security partnership.

The AUKUS deal, which was described as a “stab in the back” by France and sparked outcry across Europe, has raised concerns over nuclear proliferation from the international community as under the deal Australia has scrapped a contract to buy submarines from France in favor of US-made nuclear vessels.

The two presidents “agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners,” according to their joint statement.

US President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, on July 26, 2021. (Xinhua)

Since the AUKUS pact was unveiled last Wednesday, France, outraged by the abrupt move without notice, has accused Australia and the US of “lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt” and recalled its ambassadors to the two countries on Friday.

Macron and Biden “have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives.” They will meet in Europe at the end of October “in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process,” the joint statement said.

Macron has decided that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week, it added.

Meanwhile, Biden reaffirmed “the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region” and said that the US “recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization),” according to the joint statement.

Dismayed by the “unacceptable” act by the US, European leaders in recent days have voiced concerns about the AUKUS agreement and demanded an explanation from Biden on why he misled France and other European partners in forging the new strategic agreement in the Indo-Pacific region.