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Biden requests phone call with Macron over submarine deal — France
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 09 - 2021

France on Sunday said US President Joe Biden has requested to speak with President Emmanuel Macron over the phone, in the wake of Paris losing a multi-billion dollar submarine deal with Australia in favor of one with Washington and Britain.
"President Biden asked to speak to the President of the Republic and there will be a telephone discussion in the next few days between President Macron and President Biden," the French government's spokesman Gabriel Attal told news channel BFM TV.
France will be seeking "clarification" over the cancelation of the submarine order, he added. Paris has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia over the incident, saying it has caused a "crisis" in relations.
This will be the first contact between Macron and Biden following a major diplomatic crisis erupted between France and the United States.
The phone call is at the request of Biden, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, adding that there was "shock" and "anger" at first in France over news of the deal. But now it's time to try to move forward, he said.
What the French now call a "grave crisis" erupted over the sudden, surprise end to a 2016 contract worth at least $66 billion between France and Australia to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
Instead, Australia signed on with the United States and Britain for eight nuclear-powered submarines. France insists it was not informed of the deal in advance.
"What's at play in this affair, this crisis ... are strategic issues before being commercial issues," Attal said in an interview on BFMTV. "The question is ... the forces present, the balance, in the Indo-Pacific where part of our future is at play, and our relations with China."
"France is a country of the Indo-Pacific," Attal said, noting the French territory of New Caledonia, the French citizens living in the region and the French military forces based there. The Indo-Pacific is also an issue for Europe, he said. — Agencies


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