Updated Sep 19, 2021 - World

Macron and Biden to talk this week following diplomatic row

Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden
Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden walk together at the G7 summit in June 2021. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron “in the next few days” amid the ongoing diplomatic row surrounding a scrapped submarine order, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told French TV station BFMTV.

The latest: "President Biden very much values our alliance with France, and looks forward to speaking with President Macron and finding a way forward," a White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: Attal characterized the diplomatic crisis as "strategic" rather than commercial and noted that the phone call comes at Biden's request.

The big picture: Senior French officials have accused the United States of a "stab in the back," following the announcement of a trilateral security pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines.

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described it as a "crisis" that could threaten existing Western alliances.
  • On Friday, France took the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia.

What they're saying: “What’s at stake in this case, in this crisis, is a strategic issue before being a commercial one,” Attal said.

  • "The issue at stake here is the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, where part of our future and our relations with China are at stake. France is a country in the Indo-Pacific zone," Attal said, citing France's territories, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
  • "It is also an issue for Europe, in a context of tensions with China and the United States. We have to assert a strategic autonomy in the area and that is what it is going to be about," he said.
  • "That is what we are going to talk about. That is what we will work on and move forward in the weeks and months to come."
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