French President Emmanuel Macron will speak to President Biden in the next few days about the diplomatic flap between Paris and Washington following the submarine deal with Australia, a French government spokesman said Sunday.
Biden initiated the phone call, spokesman Gabriel Attal said during an interview with French news outlet BFMTV.
The Biden administration last week announced a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia as part of a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Britain and Australia, scuttling a 2016 contract with France to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
Instead, Australia signed an agreement with the US and Britain to build eight nuclear-powered submarines.
France insisted that it was not informed of the trilateral deal and on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia over the “grave crisis.”
Attal said Macron wanted “clarification” over cutting France out of the submarine order.
“What’s at play in this affair, this crisis … are strategic issues before being commercial issues. The question is … the forces present, the balance, in the Indo-Pacific where part of our future is at play, and our relations with China,” Attal said in the interview.
The agreement marks the Biden administration’s focus on the Indo-Pacific region amid China expanding its influence in the region.
Australia on Sunday defended entering the deal with the US and Britain and said it informed Paris of the talks.
“I don’t regret the decision to put Australia’s national interest first,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“This is an issue that had been raised by me directly some months ago and we continued to talk those issues through, including by defense ministers and others,” he said.
With Post Wires