French president Macron orders ambassador to return to US next week

Filed on September 22, 2021

Move comes after a phone call with Biden in a bid to ease tensions over Australian submarine row

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered the French ambassador to return to Washington next week after a phone call with US counterpart Joe Biden aimed at calming tensions in a row over a ditched submarine contract for Australia, a joint statement said.

The talks were the first communication between the two men since the announcement Australia was scrapping a contract to buy French submarines as part of a security pact with the UK and US.

Macron then recalled his ambassadors to Australia and the US for consulations in a sign of French anger.

“Macron has decided that the French Ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then start intensive work with senior US officials,” the joint statement said.

Macron and Biden also vowed to launch a process of “in-depth consultations” to restore confidence and to meet in Europe at the end of October, the statement said.

This meeting would seek “to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process,” the statement said.

It added: “The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners.”

It said Biden also agreed on the need for stronger European defence to complement NATO, a key idea repeatedly floated by Macron.

“The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO,” the statement said.

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