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Biden to meet French Macron as US seeks repair of fences after submarine spit

ROME – President Joe Biden will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit on Friday, offering Biden an opportunity to turn the page on a strained relationship with one of the United States’ oldest allies in following a quarrel between the two countries over a submarine deal.

This is the first face-to-face meeting since French officials said they felt blinded last month by a US decision to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, thus undermining an agreement that the French thought they had made with the Australians and putting allies on the point that Donald Trump’s America First mentality had not completely faded with the departure of the former president from office.

Biden’s first trip to Europe as president in June “was a true celebration of multilateralism and working hand in hand with our allies and partners,” Heather Conley, program director for Europe, Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, mentioned. “Four and a half months later, we went from ‘America is back’ to ‘America stabs France in the back’.”

The US-Australia security alliance, known as AUKUS, also includes the UK, and the pact effectively canceled a lucrative Australia-France submarine deal in 2016.

The US decision to secretly negotiate a new deal sparked outrage in Paris. The French have temporarily recalled their country’s ambassadors to the United States and Australia, canceled a gala in Washington and issued a number of statements criticizing the Biden administration.

The Biden administration, focused on combating China’s growing power, viewed the nuclear submarine deal as a way to strengthen ties with Australia, an important Pacific ally, while also strengthening the Australia’s power in the region. France had also hoped that the submarine contract would strengthen their own military role in the Indo-Pacific region and allow them to play a more central role in Europe’s response to China’s rise.

Since announcing the deal, the United States has made a number of efforts to smooth things over. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged during a visit to Paris this month that the United States could have “communicated better”, adding that “we sometimes tend to take relations between the States for granted”. United and France. Vice President Kamala Harris also announced that she would be visiting Paris in November, her third overseas trip since taking office, and Biden spoke to Macron on the phone.

AUKUS will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology the United States had previously only shared with Britain. The pact also allows for greater collaboration between the three countries on cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, as well as in other areas.

It will also make Australia the seventh country in the world to own nuclear-powered submarines, after the United States, Britain, France, China, India and Russia. Unlike these other countries, Australia does not have nuclear weapons.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan did not say what Biden would seek to cover with Macron, but in an overview of the G-20 trip to reporters, he brushed aside the idea that there was a rift between the United States and their allies.

“After many comments in recent weeks on the state of transatlantic relations, the United States and Europe are heading towards these two summits aligned and united on the main elements of the global agenda,” said Sullivan.

In a statement Friday morning, Macron’s office said the two would meet “with the aim of restoring confidence and reviving Franco-American relations.”

Along with Macron, Biden will meet Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who is hosting this year’s G-20 meeting, and Pope Francis at the Vatican.

At a summit of EU leaders this month, Macron said the G-20 was the “right opportunity” to see how he and Biden could “re-engage” after last month’s dispute.

Some commitments the United States could make to France to reduce tensions could include increased support for European defense efforts, increased support for French military efforts to combat terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa, or a rise of French participation in the Indo-Pacific region, Conley said.

The White House said the questions were among the topics discussed by Biden and Macron during a phone call last week.

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