US President, Joe Biden on Friday, October 29 admitted that his administration was “clumsy” in its handling of the nuclear submarine deal that deprived France of billions in defense contracts.
Biden met with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, in Rome, in a meeting meant to repair fractured ties after a rift over an agreement to provide Australia with submarines.
Last month, the US, the United Kingdom and Australia announced a new partnership that includes providing assistance to help Australia develop nuclear-powered submarines — a deal France says was made without its knowledge, ending it’s own contract with Australia to provide less effective diesel-powered submarines.
The rift escalated to the point that France temporarily recalled its US ambassador, and even Biden was caught off-guard by how furious French officials became over the matter.
“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God,” Biden said on Friday, sitting alongside Macron in the French Embassy to the Holy See.
“I think what happened — to use an English phrase — what we did was clumsy,” Biden continued.
“It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression that certain things had happened that had not happened.”
Biden called France “an extremely valued partner and a power in and of itself.”
“There’s too much we have done together, suffered together, celebrated together and value together for anything to be able to break this up. We’re at one of those inflection points in world history. Things are changing. Pieces of the board are moving,” he added.
When Macron was asked if he was satisfied that the relations with the United States had been repaired, he told reporters, “We clarified together what we had to clarify.”
“Now what’s important is to be sure that such a situation will not be possible for our future,” he added. Macron emphasized that “what really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years.”
The highly anticipated bilateral meeting between the long-standing allies is taking place ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Rome and the United Nations’ subsequent climate summit in Glasgow.