French ambassador to the US Philippe Etienne says he demanded to be seen by the White House after the AUKUS submarine deal went through ‘but it was a bit late’: Macron will speak with Biden this week to address the ‘major breach of confidence’ to grab
- France requested the phone call between the two leaders for ‘clarification’
- France recalled its ambassador to the US on Friday, escalating the dispute
- Ambassador Philippe Etienne says France was ‘absolutely’ unaware
- Biden meets British Prime Minister Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Morrison in New York
- The bilateral meetings come as the UN General Assembly meets
- Biden and French President Macron are expected to speak by phone
France’s ambassador to the US remains furious at being left in the dark about a new security arrangement between the US, Britain and Australia – he said on Monday after being recalled in Paris that France was ‘definitely’ not in advance informed.
“As soon as we heard (of the deal) on Wednesday morning, I demanded to be seen, I was seen,” Ambassador Philippe Etienne told French radio station RTL from Paris on Monday.
But, he added, “It was a little late.”
Speaking from Paris amid France’s dramatic blow to its longtime diplomatic ally the US, Etienne lamented, “We were absolutely unaware of the new course.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled France’s ambassador to the US after he was caught off guard by a new security arrangement between the US, Australia and Britain
The ongoing diplomatic spat will be in the background as President Joe Biden flies to New York on Monday for the UN General Assembly meeting.
French President Emmanuel Macron is not scheduled to appear, and in another sign of diplomatic excitement, he will not appear on video. Instead, he “ordered” his Secretary of State, Jean-Yves LeDrian, to appear instead, the New York Times reported.
And in another public demonstration of US stance, the public schedule released Monday by the White House showed bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
No such bilateral meeting with the French is mentioned.
Biden and Macron are expected to speak by phone in an effort to smoothen relations. Biden returns to Washington from Delaware Monday morning, then flies to New York.
“President Biden has asked to speak to the President of the Republic and there will be a telephone discussion between President Macron and President Biden in the coming days,” Macron spokesman Gabriel Attal told French channel BFM TV.
President Joe Biden to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia at the UN on Tuesday
France was furious after hearing of new deal between US, Australia and UK
Macron wants explanations from Biden about what caused a ‘major breach of confidence’ after France was caught off guard by the scheme.
“There was a moment of shock, of anger… Now we must move on,” he said.
The French were outraged not only at being kept out of the discussions, but also at losing a $90 billion contract to build a fleet of diesel-electric submarines for Australia. Instead, the Australians will rely on US and British nuclear technology.
Etienne said his departure from Washington marks the “seriousness of the situation.”
But French and Australian officials said Monday the spat will not disrupt negotiations between Australia and the EU on a free trade agreement.
France also recalled its ambassador to Canberra during the dispute.
State Department official Erica Barks-Ruggles said during a phone call on the UN meetings Monday that France was an “extremely valuable ally” and that the US would have the opportunity to communicate with France if the five members of meeting with the Security Council.
She said Biden’s schedule “will remain dynamic as always,” but had no other talks with the French to announce.