Biden admits to French President Macron that US was 'clumsy' in handling nuclear submarine deal

"I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God," said Biden.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In the first meeting between the two leaders following the announcement of the AUKUS pact, President Joe Biden told French President Emmanuel Macron that the US was "clumsy" in its handling of the nuclear submarine deal.

Biden sat down with the French leader at France's Vatican embassy in Rome, Villa Bonaparte, as part of a series of meetings with world leaders ahead of the multiple international summits, according to the BBC.

"I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God," said Biden.

"I think what happened — to use an English phrase — what we did was clumsy," Biden continued, according to CNN. "It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression that certain things had happened that had not happened."

Later in the talk, 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," Biden added.

When asked about his satisfaction regarding US-France relations, Macron 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," Macron continued.

Macron noted that "what really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years."

Following the September announcement of the AUKUS agreement between the US, UK, and Australia, with the main purpose of establishing a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia, France expressed frustrations on being left out.

"This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Trump used to do," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"I am angry and bitter. This isn't done between allies."

Macron said at the time he would veer away from "strategic autonomy" with the United States following the announcement.


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