The American and French Presidents have sat down in an attempt to repair strained relationships brought about by a submarine deal.
US President Joe Biden has labelled the trilateral handling of a submarine deal, which resulted in a major diplomatic fallout with France, as “clumsy”.
Last month, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom formed a new partnership – AUKUS – which meant Canberra would scrap its $90b submarine deal with Paris in favour of nuclear technologies made available by London and Washington.
But France was blindsided by the deal having been advised on the eve of the AUKUS announcement. As a result, ambassadors were pulled from Canberra and Washington.
While Mr Biden was able to smooth over relations, Mr Morrison has faced more difficulties in repairing the relationship.
Speaking from the G20 leaders summit in Rome, Mr Biden sat aside Emmanuel Macron in their first face-to-face meeting since the deal was signed, admitting the situation could have been better handled.
“It was … clumsy … it was not done with a lot of grace,” Mr Biden said.
“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through.
“ … That certain things had happened that hadn’t happened.”
Mr Macron was asked whether repairs with the US had been repaired, saying “we clarified together what we had to clarify.”
It comes after Mr Morrison finally spoke to Mr Macron via phone on the cusp of his flying to Europe on Thursday.
While a readout of the call from Paris suggested Mr Macron expected Australia to do more to rebuild their relationship, Canberra said the dialogue had been “productive”.
According to the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron told Mr Morrison the decision had “broken” trust between the two nations.
“It is now up to the Australian government to propose tangible actions that embody the will of Australia’s highest authorities to reduce the basis of our bilateral relationship,” the readout said.
In contrast, a spokesperson for Mr Morrison described the phone call as having been a “candid discussion”.
On Friday, Defence Minister Peter Dutton suggested the reason France remained bitter about the deal was because of a looming election.
“Politicians and elections always make for an interesting mix. I think once we get through the next year, hopefully we can continue with steps to normalise the relationship,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Morrison, who has arrived in Rome, will come face-to-face with Mr Macron at the G20 leaders summit, before they fly to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit.
Originally published as Joe Biden describes France submarine deal snub by AUKUS as ‘clumsy’