US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have met in the French embassy of the Vatican.
Top of the agenda was the controversy surrounding the Australian submarine deal, which saw the Australians break off an agreement with France for the supply of conventional submarines, for an alternative deal with the UK for eight nuclear powered ones.
The French Foreign Minister labelled the deal a ‘stab in the back’
Biden apologised for the deal, calling it ‘clumsy’, and reiterating that France was an ‘extremely valued partner.’
‘What we did was clumsy, it was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden said on Friday. I was under the impression certain things had happened that hadn’t happened,’ said Biden.
‘I want to make it clear, France is an extremely, extremely valued partner,’ he added. France is a power in its own right, and ‘we have the same value system.’
‘For me, it’s the future we need to look at,’ the French president responded.
In an apparent dig at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Biden said he was under the impression Canberra had informed France of the UK deal before its announcement.
Canberra had in fact not told France, and news of the deal to give Australia a nuclear powered submarine fleet came as a shock to the French government.