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Macron, Biden to Talk Amid Sub Crisis  09/19 09:16

   President Emmanuel Macron will speak in the coming days with President Joe 
Biden in what will be their first contact since a major diplomatic crisis 
erupted between France and the United States over a submarine deal with 
Australia, an official said Sunday.

   PARIS (AP) -- President Emmanuel Macron will speak in the coming days with 
President Joe Biden in what will be their first contact since a major 
diplomatic crisis erupted between France and the United States over a submarine 
deal with Australia, an official said Sunday.

   The phone call is at the request of Biden, government spokesman Gabriel 
Attal said, adding that there was "shock" and "anger" at first. 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.

   France recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia in a 
sign of the seriousness of the crisis.

   "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."

   The deal by the United States reflects the American pivot toward the 
Indo-Pacific region, seen as increasingly strategic as China bolsters its 
influence there.

   France feels the deal steps on its feet in a region where it has long had a 
strong presence that it, too, is working to bolster, in addition to a five-year 
contract with Australia.

   "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 
military forces based there.

   The Indo-Pacific is also an issue for Europe, he said.

   Macron will be seeking explanations from Biden about what led to a "major 
rupture in confidence," the spokesman added. "There was a moment of shock, of 
anger ... Now, we must advance," Attal said.

   On Friday night, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian railed against 
what France views as a betrayal marked by "duplicity, disdain and lies."

   Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday that France "would 
have had every reason to know that we have deep and grave concerns" about the 
capability of France's Attack class subs that can't meet its strategic 
interests.

 
 
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