President Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday in a bid to resolve a bitter diplomatic break and said he’s sending Vice President Kamala Harris to Paris to resolve any hard feelings.
Macron recalled the French ambassador to Washington last month after Biden stunned America’s oldest ally by announcing a nuclear submarine pact with Australia and the UK called AUKUS to counter China. The move cost a French company work to build conventional submarines and excluded France despite its nuclear expertise and far-flung colonial holdings.
Biden and Macron “reviewed ongoing efforts by their teams to support stability and security in the Sahel and to enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” the White House said.
“They also discussed efforts to enable a stronger and more capable European defense while ensuring complementarity with NATO. President Biden looks forward to the meeting with President Macron in Rome later this month, where they will continue the conversation, take stock of the many areas of U.S.-France cooperation, and reinforce our shared interests and common values as we take on challenges and opportunities together.”
Biden also spoke with Macron about his decision to dispatch Harris, who has found herself in charge of other dicey assignments, such as stemming the flow of illegal immigration amid this year’s US-Mexico border crisis — a situation that has worsened rather than improved since she was put in charge in March.
Biden “noted the November visit by Vice President Harris to Paris as a key opportunity to further enhance U.S.-France cooperation on a range of global challenges,” the White House said.
Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders said that Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, would visit Paris for Armistice Day marking the 103th anniversary of World War I ending. During the trip she will visit Suresnes American Cemetery, where former President Donald Trump spoke to mark the 100th anniversary in 2018.
Harris “will attend and deliver a speech at the fourth annual Paris Peace Forum on November 11. She will also participate in the Paris Conference on Libya on November 12,” Sanders said.
Harris and Macron will meet during her trip to “discuss the importance of the transatlantic relationship to global peace and security and underscore the importance of our partnership on global challenges from COVID-19 and the climate crisis to issues affecting the Sahel and the Indo-Pacific.”
AUKUS ironically was launched to patch up the US-Australia relationship after Biden snubbed that country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, during the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Australia, which fought alongside the US throughout the 20-year war, reportedly learned of the Aug. 31 US withdrawal date from the news and Biden didn’t call Morrison during the frantic evacuation of Kabul.
France said it was blindsided by the nuclear submarine pact. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “It is really a stab in the back. We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed and I’m angry today, with a lot of bitterness, about this breach.”