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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Biden to speak Wednesday with French President Macron

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President Biden on Wednesday will hold his first conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron since Paris erupted with anger last week after the U.S. upended its multibillion submarine deal with Australia.

It is expected to be a strained conversation between the two world leaders. Mr. Macron’s office said Wednesday that he expects “a clarification and a clear commitment” from Mr. Biden during the call.

In a statement announcing the call, Mr. Macron said scuttling the Australia deal has created a “crisis of trust” between the two leaders.

Mr. Biden has avoided press questions on the issue, even as the crisis grew larger. Both leaders are expected to release a joint communique following the call, French officials told the press.

The White House has pushed since Monday to set up a call between the two leaders. A senior administration official, speaking with reporters this week, said the U.S. doesn’t share France’s view about the Australia deal but does understand its position.

Mr. Biden last week announced a trilateral security pact with Australia that includes the United Kingdom. Under the deal, the U.S. will provide Australia with nuclear submarines.

That deal cost France a $66 billion deal to provide Australia with diesel-powered submarines. It nixed hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to French media outlets.

The canceled deal has left French officials furious.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was “angry and bitter” about the deal and had strong words for Australia and the United States.

Mr. Le Drian called the deal “a stab in the back,” saying it isn’t done between allies. He also said the “brutal and unilateral decision” resembled some of the moves by former President Donald Trump, who often angered allies with his “America First” agenda.

France has recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia. It also has canceled a gala in Washington to celebrate the ties between the two nations.

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